'Priyanka made statement about Cong as a fringe Org'

Union minister and BJP leader Arun Jaitley. PTI File photo

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's comment that the Congress will cut into the BJP's votes in Uttar Pradesh is a "confessional statement" about her party becoming a "fringe organisation", the BJP said on Thursday.

Senior party leader and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley mocked top Congress leaders as "chunavi Hindus" (Hindus during elections) for their visits to temples during elections, saying they never did so during previous polls and have been compelled to do so now.

Addressing a press conference, Jaitley seized on the Congress general secretary's remarks made on Wednesday in Amethi that her party will not adversely impact the prospects of the SP-BSP alliance in India's politically most crucial state as it has chosen its candidates in a way that they will either win or cut into the BJP's votes.

"This is her confessional statement about the Congress becoming a fringe organisation... A mainstream party, the grand old party of Indian politics is now a fringe organisation in India," he said.

The Congress used to be a party of 300-400 seats during the times of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, then became a party of 125-150 seats during Rajiv Gandhi's era and is now a party of 40-70 seats, he said, adding that the 2009 election was an exception when it won more than 200 seats.

In a swipe at Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Jaitley said it was inconceivable at one time that Congress leaders will support those chanting slogans in favour of India's break-up.

The BJP leader was apparently referring to Rahul Gandhi's visit to JNU in 2016 to express solidarity with a group of students who were protesting police action against students accused of raising anti-national slogans.

To a question about Congress leader Digvijay Singh inviting a group of 'sadhus' to Bhopal, from where he is contesting the Lok Sabha election, Jaitley threw "chunavi Hindu" barb at the opposition party's leaders.

When the Vishwa Hindu Parishad would say that "garv se kaho hum Hindu hain" (say with pride we are Hindus), then the Congress used to call it "communal", he said, adding that its top leaders have now been forced to become "chunavi Hindus".

Noting that top Congress leaders have been frequenting temples, he said they did not do it in 2004, 2009 or 2014 elections but are doing it now.

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