Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Thursday called off her first press conference after being inducted in the Congress as a general secretary, expressing grief over the deaths of 37 CRPF personnel in a terror attack in Kashmir.
The press conference was meant to wrap up her four-day visit to the state, the first after being appointed in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
“Yeh karikaram rajnaitik charcha ke liye rakha gaya tha, lekin Pulwama mein jo atanki hamla hua hai, jiski wajah se hum yeh anuchit samjhte hain ki hum yeh rajnaitik charcha karen (This conference was organised for political discussions, but following the terrorist attack in Pulwama, I find it inappropriate to indulge in the same),” Priyanka told reporters. A two-minute silence was also observed as a mark of grief.
Priyanka appeared before the mediapersons with sitting BJP MLA from Meerapur constituency in Muzaffarnagar Avtar Singh Bhadana and former Union Minister Ram Lal Rahi who joined Congress on Thursday. She said that both had come to join Congress, but she has decided to stay away from any political discussion because of the terror attack.
“I want to tell their families that every single countryman is with them in their hour of grief,” she said. “They should have faith… we are standing by them,” she added.
Bhadana joined the Congress a day after Priyanka announced alliance with Mahan Dal, a little known outfit in Western Uttar Pradesh, which has a base among a section of the “non-Yadavs”. Bhadana, a “Gujjar”, had joined Rashtriya Lok Dal in 2015 and then BJP before 2017 Lok Sabha elections. He also won from Meerapur Assembly constituency. His induction would help Congress further strengthen its base in Western Uttar Pradesh, as most of its prominent leaders are either in Central or Eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Former Union Minister and four-time MP from Mishrikh Lok Sabha constituency in Sitapur, Ram Lal Rahi, was expelled from Congress four years back for participating in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachch Bharat Abiyan.
Asked about the joining of Bhadana, BJP spokesperson Harish Srivastava said, “Aise log na ghar ke rehte hain na ghat ke. (Such people belong no where).” As for Rahi, he said that while Rahi’s son Suresh Rahi is a BJP MLA from Hargaon, his father is not with the saffron party.
On Thursday, Priyanka met leaders and workers from 11 Lok Sabha constituencies, including Varanasi, the seat won with a thumping majority by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.
She also held meetings with party workers from Etawah and Farrukhabad, state’s Congress spokesperson Ashok Singh said.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, the AICC general secretary for western UP, also held discussions with workers from constituencies under his charge.