Facing heat from the BJP, Rahul Gandhi on Saturday rejected criticism that he made any personal attack on Narendra Modi, saying he only mentioned that the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate had earlier never referred to his wife in poll affidavits.
“I did not get personal. I just stated that on his affidavits he had previously not mentioned something. So it’s not a personal thing,” he told reporters here soon after filing his nomination papers for the Lok Sabha polls.
He was responding to a question on his raking up the marital status of Modi while addressing a rally in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday.
BJP came out all guns blazing with Arun Jaitley asking how Rahul can be disturbed by a disclosure of a “legitimate” relationship when “many” of his partymen have “illicit” relationships.
Flanked by his mother Sonia Gandhi, sister Priyanka and her husband Robert Vadra, Rahul, who is seeking re-election for a third consecutive term from Amethi constituency, filed his nomination papers and expressed confidence of registering a “good victory”.
“We will have a good victory,” 43-year-old Rahul, who is pitted against Smrita Irani of BJP and Kumar Vishwas of Aam Aadmi party from this Nehru-Gandhi family pocketborough, told reporters. Perched atop an SUV, Rahul got a rousing reception. The Gandhi siblings waved enthusiastically as their convoy made its way through the huge crowd that had lined the entire three km stretch to the district collectorate in Gauriganj where he filed his nomination.
In scenes similar to the one witnessed when Sonia filed her nomination in neighbouring Rae Bareli, rose petals were showered on them as they moved in a convoy. Gandhi has held the Amethi seat since 2004.
Trashing projections of opinion polls that his party will lose elections, Rahul recalled that Congress had been written off by the such polls in 2004 as well as 2009 but those did not prove to be correct. “They (opinion polls) kept saying Congress will lose but you know what happened,” he said, referring to his party’s unexpected victories in last two Lok Sabha elections.
Asked about certain controversial statements made by leaders of various political parties, Rahul said attempts to polarise elections take place every time and Congress will take everybody along. Priyanka also said that Rahul had not made any personal attack on Modi.
“I don’t think he made a personal attack. He made a point that something was missing from the affidavit before. Besides, I don’t think they (BJP) are in a position to talk about personal attacks,” she said. Rahul said he has focussed on three things for development of Amethi — working with women bodies, connecting the area with national highways and railways and developing food park.
He will focus on these issues in the future also to generate more employment for youths, he said. Rahul along with Sonia, Priyanka and Vadra reached Amethi after conducting a roadshow through adjoining Sultanpur where his cousin Varun Gandhi is contesting on a BJP ticket. The roadshow was conducted on a 42-km stretch between Amhart in Sultanpur and Gauriganj in Amethi which is going to polls on May 7.
The event evoked curosity as this is for the first time Rahul is organising such a political campaign from Sultanpur constituency where another Gandhi family member is fighting against a Congress candidate. Senior leader and family loyalist Satish Sharma and UPCC chief Nirmal Khatri accompanied Rahul.
Sonia and Rahul paid a visit to a local resident Kamruddin in Panha village and asked about his family’s well being. In an informal chat in Dhammaur area, Priyanka was queried about BJP fielding Smriti Irani against Rahul. “Everyone who comes to Amethi is welcome. There is an arrangement in democracy for everyone to contest election”, she said. When asked whether she expects Rahul to win by bigger margin, she replied “it will all be known later”.