New Delhi: They probably don't know it themselves, but men and women from India's economically backward classes have become reference points for political rivals Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi for pitching both sides of India's growth model.
But on Monday at the annual general meeting of FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO), Modi found cause to mock Gandhi's speech about the plight of Kalavati (Bandurkar), a farmer's widow from Vidarbha, as he cited the example of Jassu Behen whose pizza in Gujarat which gives fair competition to even reputed brands such as Pizza Hut.
"In Ahmedabad, Jassu Behen's pizza is very popular, people prefer those pizzas over Pizza Hut pizzas. Jassu Behen died 5 years back but her pizzas still capture the markets of Gujarat," Modi said the annual general meeting of FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO).
Modi said the popular Lijjat papad brand was started by Gujarat's tribal women. "It's a model of entrepreneurship," he added.
"Everyone will rush to Ahmedabad to check that Jassu Behen is not like
Kalavati," Modi said in an apparent dig at Gandhi.
Kalavati, whose husband committed suicide in 2005, became the face of the crisis faced by families of the farmers in Vidarbha's 'suicide belt', after Gandhi mentioned her in his Lok Sabha speech during the trust vote. His political opponent and former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari later alleged that though Gandhi had met her, no financial assistance was given to her. Her son-in-law, and later her daughter too, committed suicide.
Gandhi, during his CII address to industrialists, also referred to migrant worker Girish from Uttar Pradesh who he said was an example of the optimism with which thousands of youth struggle every day in India.