(Eds: Adds details, recasts story) Coimbatore, Jan 23 (PTI) Kickstarting his party's campaign for the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday focussed on Tamil language and culture to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi and to connect with the people.
In essence, Gandhi said his party stood for plural values and showed respect for Tamil language and culture, while the BJP and Prime Minister Modi tried to impose their 'ideology' of 'one' culture.
In April or early May assembly elections are likely in Tamil Nadu and AIADMK, a BJP partner, is in power since 2011.
The top Congress leader also brought in the family angle to bond with the people.
The Tamil people showered their love on his grandmother Indira Gandhi and his father Rajiv Gandhi and he was indebted to them for their love, he said.
Seeking to emotionally connect with the people, he repeated that he only wanted the self-respecting Tamil people's love and affection and his ties with them were pure, honest and straight forward.
'My relationship with the people of Tamil Nadu is not a political relationship, it is a family relationship,' he said and asserted he had no 'selfish' interest in visiting the state.
He had a 'blood' relationship with the state and he visited Tamil Nadu as a family member.
Rahul targeted Modi over a range of issues like the farm laws, demonetisation, GST and economy and did not spare the Saffron party's parent body, RSS too.
'I am very proud to see that the farmers are sitting outside Delhi and not allowing Narendra Modi to implement the farm laws.' Demonetisation was attack on the Indian worker, GST on workers and small and medium businesses and the three new farm laws are the 'demonetisation for the kisan (farmer) and this is what we have to fight in an organised way,' he said.
Accusing Modi of 'arrogance,' Gandhi said the Prime Minister 'does not understand the power of the poor people and our job is to make him understand the power of the poor people, workers and farmers.' Gandhi's campaign included roadshows and interaction with representatives of industry and workers and it visibly enthused cadres. Unlike the past, it was an out and out Congress show and workers of the DMK or other allies did not attend his campaign.
Attacking the BJP, he said his party was involved in a fight against a 'particular' ideology that believed that 'only one culture, one language and one idea should rule India.' Prime Minister Narendra Modi has 'no respect' for the culture, language and people of Tamil Nadu, he alleged.
Modi 'thinks that the Tamil people, Tamil language and Tamil culture should be subservient to his ideas, his culture,' Gandhi claimed.
In Prime Minister's perception of India, people of Tamil Nadu should be 'second' class citizens, he alleged, adding whereas his party valued pluralism providing a space for all languages and cultures including Tamil.
His visit to the state was to make people realise that their culture, language and history was under attack, he said.
'I will work with the people of Tamil Nadu to help you get a government that you deserve,' he said and refrained from mentioning ally DMK, the ruling AIADMK's archrival and a key contender for power in Tamil Nadu.
The Congress party's ties with the DMK appeared strained after the Dravidian party days ago said it had plans to contest all the 30 seats in neighbouring Puducherry as part of efforts to strengthen the party.
'I want to help bring a government in Tamil Nadu that truly respects poor people, farmers, labourers and small and medium business owners,' Gandhi said.
Throughout his day long campaign, Gandhi addressed the people by wearing a mask. PTI VGN BN WELCOME BN WELCOME