A day after Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said that the Congress has fielded candidates to eat into the BJP’s votes and not the UP mahagathbandhan’s, the party general secretary in-charge of eastern UP said she would “rather die than help the BJP. Our ideologies are poles apart.”
Speaking to The Indian Express during a daylong road show across Rae Bareli, her mother Sonia Gandhi’s constituency, Priyanka said, “I can’t say how we will perform in Uttar Pradesh, but we are putting up a spirited fight. We are putting up strong candidates against the BJP everywhere. There will definitely be an improvement in our vote share.”
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During a stopover in Jagatpur, she addressed Samajwadi Party workers. “My mother is a candidate from here. Voting is on May 6. No matter which party you belong to, you cannot deny the fact that Sonia Gandhi has worked for the development of Rae Bareli. She has built roads, hospitals, but a lot still needs to be done here, for which you need to ensure that Sonia wins again with a high margin.” She was speaking to around 500 SP workers, all sporting red caps.
Priyanka shared the stage with SP’s Unchahar MLA Manoj Kumar Pandey, and chants of ‘Priyanka Gandhi zindabad’, and ‘Akhilesh Yadav zindabad’ echoed across the venue.
“The event was specific to Rae Bareli, they (SP) support us here. We wanted to ally with them but we accepted their wisdom, their decision. We are fighting alone in UP, but the objective of their (mahagathbandhan) and our fight is the same,” Priyanka told The Indian Express after the address.
Priyanka’s visit comes a day after Congress president Rahul Gandhi said in Barabanki: “(PM Narendra) Modi holds the remote control for Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav.” The SP and the BSP chiefs, in turn, targeted the Congress in their campaigns. “I don’t believe the Congress has fielded weak candidates anywhere. No party does it. People are not with them, so they are making excuses,” SP’s Akhilesh Yadav told ANI. BSP’s Mayawati, meanwhile, said in a statement, “Like the BJP, the Congress has started saying absurd things about the SP-BSP alliance. It is clear that both have a tacit understanding and are contesting against our alliance unitedly.”
On Wednesday, Priyanka had said, “It is clear that our candidates are putting up a tough fight. Where they are strong enough, they will win on their own. Where they are weaker, we have fielded candidates that will eat into BJP votes.”
Priyanka began her campaign from Rae Bareli’s Rahi Block on Thursday morning, and stopped at nearly 10 villages. “Did demonetisation help you? Did GST help you? I have gone to several villages, farmers are crying about stray animals destroying their crops. No gaushalas have been built. The PM Kisan Samman Yojana is kisaan apmaan yojana (farmer honour scheme is actually farmer humiliation scheme),” she said in Babuganj.
Priyanka’s road show culminated in a joint rally with Sonia in Sareni village. This was the former Congress president’s first rally in these elections. She had earlier addressed small meetings.
“You have the right to vote, through which you can teach those who have made false promises a lesson. You remember the promises PM Modi made — Rs 15 lakh in your bank accounts, 2 crore jobs, farmers’ income to be doubled and several schemes for women. But the truth is now in front of you and you are suffering. The youth are looking for jobs, the farmer has realised that doubling income was a jumla. Notebandi and GST have destroyed small businesses. The Modi government has spent the country’s wealth on big businessmen. They have shut down schemes that we started for your welfare,” Sonia said, addressing the rally of about 3,000 people.
Earlier in the day, at a village near Jagatpura, Priyanka held up snakes while listening to complaints of the snake charmer community. “It won’t do anything, don’t be scared,” she told an onlooker.