Enthused by the presence of a cheering crowd and apparently oblivious of the ground realities of a shrinking  support base coupled with the defection of party MLA Abu Naser Khan Choudhury to Trinamul Congress, AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday called upon the people to elect Congress to power in the state Assembly elections next year.

“Ever since the people removed Left Front government, Mamata Banerjee as chief minister stepped on the brakes of the vehicle of the state, thereby stopping development.

“Place Congress in the car of the state and it will step on the accelerator leading to development and for it I am prepared to brave a few strikes from a lathi,” Gandhi said, addressing a party activists meeting at Netaji Indoor Stadium during the day.

Dressed in a white kurta and blue jeans and sporting a stubble, the AICC vice-president fired a barrage of broadsides at “suit boot ka sarkar” led by Narendra Modi at the Centre and Banerjee who had accompanied the former to a trip to Dhaka.

The chief minister who breaks into  Tagore’s song “Ekla Chalo Re” is now in Dhaka “Modiji ke sath”, Rahul said.

“Earlier, Banerjee turned down the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s offer to accompany him to Dhaka, but then  you should know the reason why she went to the neighbouring nation’s Capital this time,” he told his party activists.

In fact, Banerjee has misinterpreted Tagore&’s Ekla Chalo Re, Gandhi said. “For she goes ahead without asking anyone, be it her partymen or the people.” he added.

Turning his fire on the Prime Minister, the AICC vice-president said  “While Modi after making a slew of promises is now asking the people to come to the thoroughfares and practice yoga, Banerjee, after promising to end Left Front atrocities, actually doubled it in her regime,” the AICC vice-president said. 

“Other states surged ahead when the soul of Bengal which Tagore had spoken of was hammered by the Left Front regime as its dominant partner had its flag adorned by a hammer and sickle,” Gandhi said. "But when that flag was replaced by an alliance of open palm and flower, that flower continued to hit harder than the hammer." he said.

“Modi, talking of a clean-up picked up the broom and now it is on the back burner,” the AICC vice-president said. “Now it is the time to go to the streets and practice yoga, just another tactic to forget promises,” he added.

“Modi has now the army personnel in tears, promising one rank, one pension policy and then sitting on it." Gandhi said. As for the Land Bill, the present government set aside the pre-conditions of the UPA II had imposed to protect farmers interest not through Parliament but by an ordinance, he said.

After asking his party activists to replace the Trinamul regime, Gandhi acknowledged that it is a rather tall order.

“In no other state are Congress workers assaulted,” he said.