ALWAR (RAJASTHAN): Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday said he was "opening a shop of love in the market of hate" through the Bharat Jodo Yatra and urged BJP leaders questioning his cross-country foot march to do the same.
Addressing a rally here on the sidelines of the Yatra, he asked each minister in the Rajasthan Cabinet to undertake a yatra once a month across the desert state to reach out to the common people and redress their grievances.
Gandhi also hit out at BJP leaders for criticising the use of English in schools, saying that children of Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP chief ministers, MPs and MLAs study in English medium schools while they talk against the use of English language.
"The Yatra has been going on for over 100 days, I find friends on the road, some of them standing atop BJP offices. First I wave but they don't respond as they are not allowed to do so. They want to respond but it is not allowed, then some of them wave back when I do it again.
"And then I do this," Gandhi said and gestures blowing kisses while addressing a major rally here in the presence of Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Sachin Pilot and other state leaders
"I don't hate them (BJP leaders), I fight against their ideology but I like them, I like all beings. Some of them (BJP) gesture and ask me what I am doing, my answer is: 'Nafrat ke bazaar mein mohabbat ki dukaan khol raha hoon (Opening a shop of love in the market of hate)," he said.
Gandhi said the BJP leaders can hate him or abuse him as they wish but he does not mind it.
"Your 'bazaar is of nafrat' (the market is of hatred), but my shop is of love," he stressed.
He said this was not just his thinking but that of the entire Congress organisation and great leaders of the country such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, BR Ambedkar, and Abul Kalam Azad.
"All of them had opened a shop of love in the market of hatred," he added.
"This is what we do. So this is my answer to the people of the BJP. Come, you also start opening a shop of love in the market of hatred," he said in a message to his critics in the BJP.
"You will have to do it because our religion, our country is one of love and not of hate," he added.
Gandhi also heaped praise on the Ashok Gehlot government for its welfare schemes.
The best scheme in the country for the poor is probably in Rajasthan ÂChiranjeevi Swasthya Bima Yojana, he said.
"People used to tell me on the road we have to get a kidney transplant done, get a stent but don't have the moneyÂ . This is not happening in Rajasthan," he said.
"So, the Chiranjeevi scheme has removed fear from the minds of lakhs of people and it must be applauded," he said.
This scheme can show the way to the entire country, the former Congress chief added.
Gandhi also launched a scathing attack on BJP leaders for criticising the use of English in schools. "Leaders opposed to us in the BJP, wherever they go, they talk against English. They say there should be no English in schools. There should be Bengali, and Hindi but no English," he said.
Gandhi urged people to go to such leaders and ask where their children study.
"From Amit Shah to their CMs, MPs MLAs, their children go to English medium schools and they give speeches that no one should speak English. They don't want the children of poor farmers and labourers to learn English because they want that you not to dream big, that you don't get out of performing labour, from farms that is why they say don't learn English," Gandhi claimed.
"I am not saying don't study Hindi. You must study Hindi, Tamil and all Indian languages but if you want to talk to the world, be it from America, Japan, or England then Hindi will not be useful, English will work there. We want the poorest of poor farmers to go to America and outdo the children there in competition in their language," he said.
This is the Congress' view, Gandhi said and noted that the Gehlot government has opened 1700 English medium schools, and recruited 10,000 English teachers.
"Ashok Gehlot ji, this is less, as every child in Rajasthan must have the opportunity to learn English. Every child must feel that he can speak in his mother tongue and also speak with the entire worldÂ . He or she must feel that they can go and hoist the national flag abroad," Gandhi said.
He also lauded the Rajasthan government for introducing a scheme providing sanitary napkins to women.
"For men here this may be a small issue but women know that this is very important," he said.
Gandhi also urged the state government to provide social security to workers employed in the gig economy.