Senior Congress leader Rajeev Shukla said on Sunday no decision had been taken yet about general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra contesting the election against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi.
Shukla claimed that under the leadership of Vadra, who is the party’s incharge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, the Congress would do well in the Lok Sabha election and sweep the 2022 assembly election.
On the recent speculation about Vadra contesting from Varanasi, Shukla told PTI: “In response to a question, she had made a comment which is unnecessarily being talked about now. No definite decision has been taken on her contesting the election.”
During campaigning at Rae Bareli a fortnight ago, Vadra had dropped a hint that she is not averse to taking on Modi in his own Lok Sabha constituency.
“Shouldn’t I fight from Varanasi?” Vadra had quipped when a party worker asked her to contest from Rae Bareli, the constituency of her mother and UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi.
Shukla said Vadra was getting a very good response from the public wherever she is going for campaigning. “In the past 20 years, the Congress has become very weak in Uttar Pradesh. The party has to be strengthened under her leadership for 2022.”
The former Union minister said the common people would benefit from all the promises made in the Congress manifesto. “Providing Rs 72,000 per annum under the Nyay (minimum income) scheme and increasing the agricultural budget will be the priority,” he said.
The Congress leader exuded confidence that Nyay could be implemented. “I have been a planning minister, this scheme can be implemented. People who are spreading rumours did the same when our government launched the MGNREGA (rural job guarantee scheme). There will be no burden on the middle class or working class.”
Shukla also hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party on the issue of nationalism. “Nationalism was displayed during the Indira Gandhi government when Pakistan was taught a lesson in 1971. Atal Bihari Vajpayee had also given a fitting reply to Pakistan. Modi has just created a ruckus through false propaganda.”
The Congress leader said the party’s focus was employment, farmers and women’s safety.
“The BJP is only talking about Hindu-Muslim and Pakistan. We are more concerned about the common man,” Shukla said. “The biggest problem India is facing is that of unemployment. Our agenda is to give jobs to the youths and look after the issues of farmers and women’s safety in the country.”
The former Union minister claimed that the “Modi brand” would not work this time, adding that the Opposition was fighting strongly in different states and would collectively get a majority.
Asked if the Opposition parties would accept the leadership of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi after the election, Shukla said: “The Congress president himself has mentioned that there is no dispute over the leadership and later he will accept what everyone decides.”