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Gujarat polls: Congress promises to revoke remission granted to Bilkis Bano case convicts

Party promises to rename Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera after Sardar Patel

Gujarat Congress Rajasthan Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot with party leaders releases the party manifesto for the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections | PTI

The opposition Congress on Saturday said it would restore the name of the Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera area of Ahmedabad as Sardar Patel Stadium if voted to power in upcoming Gujarat elections.

In its poll manifesto, the Congress also said it would revoke the remission granted by the state government to 11 convicts in the 2002 Bilkis Bano case allowing their premature release from jail.

The 11 men convicted in the case walked out of the Godhra sub-jail on August 15.

The manifesto was released by Rajasthan Chief Minister and Congress' senior observer for Gujarat polls Ashok Gehlot here at the party headquarters.

"Today, some activists from Karamsad town (the native place of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel), gave us a memorandum demanding that the stadium be renamed Sardar Patel Stadium which was its original name. We promise the stadium will be renamed as Sardar Patel Stadium in the first Cabinet meeting of our government," said Congress manifesto committee chairman Dipak Babaria.

Talking to reporters, senior Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry said Sardar Patel's stature was much bigger than PM Modi and the latter should be ashamed of renaming the stadium after himself.

"PM Modi changed the name of the stadium because he wants to put himself on par with Sardar Patel. Though the prime minister compares himself with Patel, he stands nowhere in comparison to Sardar Patel. We will change the name of the stadium in the first Cabinet meeting," Mistry added.

Hitting back at Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party's national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said the opposition party has no moral right to talk about Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who was the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of independent India.

"Despite Sardar Patel being everyone's choice, Jawaharlal Nehru became the prime minister after independence. Congress did not start any scheme after Patel for the first eight to 10 years. They started it only after 1958-60. And I do not remember if any Congress leader has yet visited the Statue of Unity, built as a tribute to Sardar Patel by PM Modi," Trivedi told reporters in Gandhinagar.

The Congress also promised ten lakh jobs in government and semi-government departments, free medical treatment of up to Rs 10 lakh, LPG cylinders at Rs 500 and 300 units of free electricity every month.

The party, which has been out of power in Gujarat for more than two decades, also promised unemployment allowance of Rs 3,000 per month, Rs 2,000 pension to divyangs, widows, senior citizens and needy women, and waiver of loans of up to Rs 3 lakh of all fishermen, among other things.

Elections to the 182-member Assembly in Gujarat will be held in two phases - on December 1 and 5. The counting of votes will be taken up on December 8. The Congress has so far announced candidates for 68 of 89 seats for the first phase.

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