Priyanka’s cameo at UP rally stamps her appeal

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 13, 2018 Published on February 17, 2017

Priyanka Gandhi

RAHUL GANDHI, Congress Vice-President

Joins Rahul in taking on ‘outsider’ Modi over loan waiver, note ban

Priyanka Gandhi on Friday tore into Prime Minister Narendra Modi, branding him as “bahri neta (leader from outside UP)” in a local election and asked him to treat women as equal individuals.

Priyanka was the centre of attraction at a public rally in Maharajgunj — from the moment she stepped out of an SUV with her brother and Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi. The latter, too, was in his elements as he contrasted the “hollowness” of the PM’s promises when he adopted Varanasi as his constituency and fought the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

‘The PM’s blank stare’

“He showed us a picture. We all thought we would get to see Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (a Shah Rukh Khan romantic blockbuster). But all we got were antics similar to Gabbar Singh’s (An iconic negative character from the superhit Hindi film Sholay),” said Rahul. He reminded farmers present at the rally of his one-month-long tour prior to the ongoing elections, during which 1.5 crore farmers signed a petition demanding a farm loan waiver and fair price for their crops.

“I took the farmers’ demand to the PM. He met us and to our demands his reaction was a blank stare,” the Congress Vice-President said, mimicking the PM’s expression during their meeting. “And now he comes and says he will waive your loans if the BJP comes to power in UP. The Congress waived farmers’ loans amounting to ₹70,000 crore. Tell me, were we in power in UP at the time? Does he need to make a government in UP to do that?” he asked.

Reluctant speaker

Just as Rahul retired to his seat, there were demands for Priyanka to address the crowd. She kept refusing to speak, gesturing that she would come down from the dais and talk to the gathering. Rahul, too, was seen nudging her to speak, but Priyanka seemed reluctant. Finally, she gave in.

“Today, in the morning, I was taking medicine for my son who has not been keeping too well. The TV was blaring and someone was speaking badly of Uttar Pradesh. There is corruption here, he said, oppression of women, violence and what not. I stopped to check who it was, and a familiar scene unfolded. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi was speaking.”

She went on to project Modi as a bahri neta (leader from outside the State) in much the same manner as the grand alliance in Bihar painted the campaign led by Modi and BJP President Amit Shah as “Bihari-vs-Bahri” (Bihari-vs-outsider), during elections there in 2015.

“He said Varanasi has adopted me. I am Varanasi’s adopted son. I am UP’s son. That is why I will develop UP. I thought, does UP need to adopt someone from outside? Isn’t there anyone here who can lead all of us? There are two young men here – Rahul ji and Akhilesh ji. Yeh dono yahan ki mitti se bane hain. UP inke dil me hai (They are sons of UP soil. UP is in their heart). UP doesn’t need anyone from outside. Every young man standing here is capable of leading the State,” she said.

‘Talk to us as equals’

She then stirred the issue of women’s private savings, which were exposed by demonetisation. She also said the PM speaks of women in relation to men, and did not seem to acknowledge that they have an identity of their own.

“He talks about women – like sisters, wife, mother. Why? I want to raise this on your behalf, on my behalf — I am a woman, you are a woman. Don’t always talk about us in relation to men. Ankh mein ankh mila ke baat karen (Look me in the eye and talk straight). In the last six months who unleashed violence on us through note bandi? Who destroyed your private savings? Who made you stand in queues for your own money? You saved for years but he turned it into a piece of paper,” said Priyanka.

Published on February 17, 2017
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