Priyanka attacks govt at rally on PM's home turf

Priyanka attacks govt at rally on PM's home turf

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra addresses a public meeting ahead of Lok Sabha elections, in Gandhinagar on Tuesday. PTI

The Congress on Tuesday launched a blistering attack on Narendra Modi, as the party began its election campaign with a massive rally in the prime minister’s home state.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was given a key party post nearly two months ago, went full throttle as she took on Modi and urged people to use their vote against those who spread hate.

“There is no bigger nationalism than being aware. Your awareness is a weapon and so is your vote. It is a weapon which doesn’t hurt anyone. This weapon should make you stronger. Safety of women, condition of farmers... These are the issues of elections,” said Priyanka in her first election speech at the rally on the outskirts of state capital Gandhinagar.

“Today, institutions are being destroyed, hatred is being spread... Where are the two crore jobs? Ask those who promised you the moon. Ask them where is the Rs 15 lakh,” said the Gandhi scion, without naming anyone. Modi, while campaigning in 2014, had promised to deposit Rs 15 lakh in every citizen’s bank account.

Gandhi, Nehru and Indira

The mood was upbeat as thousands braved the scorching sun amid fluttering flags and patriotic songs. There were life-size cutouts of Congress president Rahul Gandhi flanked by those of Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and even Mahatma Gandhi.

The enthusiasm among the crowd was something new for the state Congress. People cheered as senior leaders, including Rahul, started appearing on the giant stage one by one. Police said there were 80,000 people who had come from different parts of the state which was an impressive crowd for the state Congress.

Priyanka, who was made AICC in-charge of Uttar Pradesh (east) on January 23, spoke for barely eight minutes during her “first visit to Gujarat”. Recalling her trip to the Sabarmati Ashram, she said, “I thought about how Mahatma Gandhi must have started the freedom struggle. I thought about all those patriots who sacrificed everything for this country. It is painful to see what is happening these days.”

Next was brother Rahul Gandhi’s turn. The Congress president made it clear that he was going to aggressively take on Modi on issues like corruption in Rafale deal, terror attack, unemployment and farm distress.

“We did our meeting in Gujarat because India is fighting two ideologies, and you will find both of them in Gujarat. Mahatma Gandhi and Gujarat have made this country. But today, there other powers which are trying to weaken the country. This time, we have decided to do something historic. If they (BJP) can give everything to the rich, we can give money to the poor.

“I want to assure you all that we are going to form the government in 2019 and will implement the minimum income guarantee scheme. Every poor will get money directly in their bank accounts,” Rahul said.

To his “chowkidaar” cue, the crowd responded, “chor hai.”

“For the first time in the history of this country, four Supreme Court judges went to the Press and said they were not allowed to work. Normally, people go to the apex court for justice, but in today’s Hindustan, SC judges are going to public and asking for justice,” he said.

The Congress chief also linked Modi with Anil Ambani, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi. He attacked the Modi government over the Pulwama attack and said the main perpetrator Masood Azhar was freed by the BJP government.

He said that Azhar was taken to Kandahar in a special train escorted by current National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

Hardik Patel joins Congress

On the occasion, Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel also officially joined the Congress party. Attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, Patel said that he joined the Congress, which has a history of patriots. To know them all, one would need a life time, Patel said.

The party touched upon the issue of patriotism as well. Senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge said, “You (BJP) ask us about patriotism. Congress defeated Pakistan thrice in war. Modiji was not even born when we got freedom.”