Launching his Lok Sabha election campaign here at a ‘Jan Vishwas Rally’, the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) likely candidate against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Kumar Vishwas, told Amethi on Sunday to join “the revolution”, adding “The nation is calling, come with us, there is nothing left in these (political) families.”
Announcing that he had applied for an AAP ticket from Amethi, Vishwas said: “I have not come here for a win or loss. My only concern is that when the sons of my daughter ask me 20 years later where I was at the time of India’s second revolution for freedom, I can tell them I was on the streets, facing lathis, under the Tricolour, for the revolution.”
He added that there was a possibility of him getting killed “in the next three months”.
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Attacking Rahul, Vishwas said: “I have come here because Rahulji, the people of Amethi sent you (to Parliament), but in 10 years, you haven’t asked a single question and your presence there was minimum. Whenever there was an issue, be it the rape of a six-year-old girl, 2G, Coalgate, Commonwealth Games, we kept waiting for you to speak.”
Instead of voting for such “yuvraj, maharani, rajkumar and maharajas”, Vishwas said, Amethi should free itself of “the clutches of dynasty” and this time “select a servant and tell him to take their word to Parliament”.
AAP leaders Sanjay Singh and Ilyas Azmi and journalist-turned-politician Ashutosh were present at the rally, which drew around 10,000 people, though the party claimed the crowd numbered around 50,000. A rally to be addressed by Rahul in Amethi on the same ground, two days before Vishwas’s, was postponed at the last minute citing waterlogging at the venue.
Addressing Sunday’s rally, Sanjay Singh too termed the fight “the second freedom struggle” and attacked dynasties from Kashmir to Tamil Nadu, while Ashutosh urged people to be “a part of the revolution”. Azmi predicted that Kumar would win by a margin of one lakh votes.
“Wish you had asked him (Rahul) why only 20 per cent of Amethi’s roads are constructed, why Nehru’s 1954 promise of an Unchahar-Salon-Amethi railway line is still a promise, why over 500 villages have to suffer because a bridge in Shankerganj is broken for the last two years,” Vishwas asked in his speech. “Going to a Dalit’s house and having dinner won’t do, Rahulji.
The job of a parliamentarian is to worry if all Dalits are sleeping on full stomachs.”
Also attacking Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Vishwas said that when she doesn’t trust the sons of India for her treatment and goes to foreign countries, how can the people of Amethi and the country trust her son.
Kumar and his cavalcade of about 150 vehicles faced sporadic protests as they drove to Amethi from Lucknow. In Inhona, around 50 Muslim youths showed him black flags. They claimed they didn’t belong to any party or organisation and that Vishwas had hurt their sentiments by making derogatory remarks against Hazrat Imam Hussain. At Jagdishpur, ink was thrown at his vehicle while he was at a girls’ college, while later stones were pelted at it.
Rickshawpullers queued up “in support” of the Congress, while Congress workers at Gauriganj waved flags and asked Vishwas to return. Stones were allegedly also hurled at buses ferrying party workers, damaging panes.
Vishwas brought up the issue of attacks again and again in his speech, terming them reflection of the “frustration” of rival parties.
“They are mistaken if they think that ink and eggs and sticks and stones will scare us,” he said.
Calling the protests “sponsored”, the AAP leader added: “Why they are doing so? Is Amethi a separate country, where I need a passport for visiting?”
However, Vishwas added, he was sorry “if any of my comments have hurt anyone’s sentiments”. To his own supporters, he instructed, never raise hands in attack and hug people instead.
When two more protesters showed black flags at the rally on Amethi’s Ramlila ground, Vishwas asked “the Congressmen” to be called up on stage “so that we can hug them and hear them out”. He added that that he would be staying in Amethi and could meet these protesters at a time and place of their choosing, “alone”.
Tweaking his poem Koi Deewana Kehta Hai, he said he may have been called a “joker”, but only a “joker” like him could understand the bechaini (worry) of Amethi. He later recited his poem Tiranga.
The local representative of Rahul in Amethi, Chandra Kant Dubey, denied that Congressmen were involved in the protests against Vishwas. “Our party workers are busy celebrating Vivekanand Jayanti and Priyanka (Vadra)’s birthday… None of them was involved in the protests against Vishwas,” PTI quoted him as saying.