Ahmedabad:  Sounding the rallying cry for a new Gujarat, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday launched her party’s campaign for the upcoming assembly polls.

Addressing a rally in Rajkot, Gandhi accused that the state's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was not against corruption but only against her party.

Gandhi took on Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has demanded that the government make public the money spent on her medical treatment last year.

"Yeh log brashtachar ke khilaf nahin, sirf hamare khilaf hain. (These people are not against corruption, just against us)," Gandhi said.

"Ek naya Gujarat banana hai aur banayenge (We have to make a new Gujarat and we will)," she said, sounding the war cry ahead of elections in the state expected to be announced any day.

Gandhi also defended the government's decision to increase diesel prices and permit foreign investment in multi-brand retail.

Challenging the BJP's version of development in Gujarat, she said the waters of the Narmada river had still not reached parched Saurashtra.

Exhorting the people to go along with the Congress, she said the voters were sensible and understood everything. Development and peace in Gujarat had to take along all sections of society, Gandhi added.

Sonia avoids Modi's attack

Gandhi avoided Modi's attack on her and the Centre demanding details of expenses on her foreign travels and said she was not bothered about personal attacks on her.

"Whenever we have taken steps in the interest of the nation, there have been all kinds of attacks against us...Neither have we bothered earlier, nor will we worry about them in future," she said launching the party's poll campaign in Gujarat at a farmers' convention here.

Sonia's attack over Lokpal Bill

Gandhi also lashed out at the BJP for not allowing the passing of the Lokpal Bill in Rajya Sabha and attacked the opposition party for not allowing Parliament to function. She also noted that Gujarat government had not appointed a Lokpal for the last eight years.

"They are not against corruption, they are against us...Those who do not allow Parliament to function talk about being against corruption...Are they against the Government or the Constitution and the democracy of the country? I leave it for you to decide as you are sensible to understand this," she said.

She used the farmers rally to make a strong pitch for FDI in retail, saying the move would help farmers get remunerative prices for their produce by selling it directly in cities.

She wondered as to why there was so much hue and cry over allowing FDI in retail when it is not mandatory for all states to implement.

Without directly naming Modi, Gandhi questioned why the people of the country were being misled on the FDI in retail decision.
She also alleged that atrocities on women were being committed in Gujarat and that Dalits seeking their rights were being fired upon.

Modi's attack on Sonia

On Tuesday, the Congress had demanded an apology from Modi for his allegation that the central government spent Rs.1,880 crore on Gandhi's foreign visits and medical treatment abroad. However, the BJP strongman stuck to his guns saying the Congress should reveal RTI queries on Gandhi's travel.

"Modi should apologise to the nation and to the Gandhi family now that it is proved that his allegations on Soniaji's foreign visits and her treatment abroad were wrong," said Congress leader Rajiv Shukla.

Modi had criticised the Central Government on Monday for questioning the Gujarat government for spending money on festivities and celebrations.

He said the state should not be questioned when the central government has itself spent Rs.1,880 crore for Gandhi's foreign trips and "treatment abroad" over three years.

Gandhi went abroad September 1 for a routine medical check-up and returned after a week. She had gone to the US for a surgery related to an undisclosed ailment last year.

JPN/Agencies

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