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Lok Sabha Elections 2019: On boat yatra, Priyanka Gandhi jabs PM Modi’s ‘Main bhi Chowkidar’ campaign

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Monday launched a scathing attack on the Narendra Modi government at the Centre accusing it of “hoodwinking” people and undermining all existing institutions in the country.

Priyanka Gandhi said that the present government was being run by four or five people who think that they could do anything they want. “A few people are taking all the decisions and they think they can hoodwink the people. They think the public doesn’t know anything,” she said while addressing a public gathering at Sirsa in Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh was making the comments during her three-day Ganga Yatra, which she began after offering prayers at a temple and the Sangam in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj. She said nobody owns India as she appealed people to ‘jago aur desh ko bachao’ or wake up and save the country.

Priyanka Gandhi quoted a farmer to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Main bhi Chowkidar’ campaign. “ A farmer told me that only the rich have watchmen, farmer are their own watchmen,” she said.

Priyanka said that the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh exempted farmers’ loans as promised within ten days of coming to power and did not believe in ‘jumlas’ and urged locals to vote for a party which would listen to them.

Earlier, she targeted Modi and his government’s policies, which she said have failed to address the concerns of the youth and farmers in Uttar Pradesh.

Addressing youngsters and farmers at the Dumduma ghat in the trans-Yamuna area of Prayagraj during her Ganga Yatra, Priyanka Gandhi said they have failed to get any benefit from the present government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“The government is just focussing on industrialists and the chowkidar has become a part of them,” she said.

Priyanka also said that the government was no longer ready to listen to the pain and problems of the farmers.

“During the last 45 years, the past five years have witnessed minimum employment and the workers have failed to even get their dues during the past six months. The condition of MNREGA is pathetic. The government has turned deaf to the sufferings of the people and anyone who dares to raise their voice is being threatened,” she said.

Priyanka Gandhi’s Ganga Yatra, a part of her second visit to the state after being appointed the party’s general secretary, comes less than a month before the Lok Sabha election 2019.

A large number of Congress workers, including women, had been waiting for her since early morning singing bhajans and patriotic songs. They also shouted slogans like ‘Priyanka nahi yeh andhi hain, Doosri Indira Gandhi hain’ (She is not just Priyanka but a storm, she is the second Indira Gandhi) and ‘UP mein badlav ki andhi, Priyanka Gandhi Priyanka Gandhi’ (Storm of change in UP, Priyanka Gandhi Priyanka Gandhi’).

Before her arrival, senior Congress leaders including chief of Congress’ state unit Raj Babbar, national spokesperson Akhilesh Pratap Singh and the ‘Ganga Yatra’ coordinator and party MLA from Rampur Khas Aradhana Mishra were also present.

Uttar Pradesh, the politically-crucial state which sends 80 or the most number of lawmakers to Parliament, will vote in all the seven phases from April 11 and till May 19. The counting of votes will take place on May 23.

On Sunday, in a video message, Priyanka targeted the BJP government for ‘neglecting’ youth, women, farmers and working class and said she was reaching out to people with the help of Ganga that was a support to people of Uttar Pradesh.

Priyanka Gandhi’s visit also comes on a day Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati snubbed the Congress over its offer to leave seven out of 80 Lok Sabha seats for the SP-BSP alliance. They recently formed an alliance and left two seats – Rae Bareli and Amethi – for the Congress. The Congress has so far named 27 candidates for Uttar Pradesh.

“The Congress is free to put up candidates in all Uttar Pradesh seats, our alliance is strong enough to defeat the BJP. The Congress should not create confusion about any alliance with us,” Mayawati tweeted.

She also made it clear that the SP-BSP combine had no poll understanding with the Congress anywhere in the country. “Our supporters should not fall for doubts being created by the Congress,” the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh said.

The party has categorised the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state in different categories. Seventeen seats have been put in the “high-priority” category, nine are in “priority” and the remaining are in “others” category. Priyanka Gandhi is responsible for 40 of these seats and they include Prayagraj and Varanasi.

And, her Ganga Yatra is aimed at reaching out to people in the region as she prepares her party’s campaign in eastern Uttar Pradesh for the Lok Sabha election 2019.

Priyanka Gandhi offered prayers at the Bade Hanuman temple in Prayagraj before the 140-kilometre Ganga Yatra on a steamer boat from Manaiya Ghat in Karchana tehsil of trans-Yamuna area of Prayagraj, around 30km from Sangam city. Her last stop will be at Assi Ghat in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency of Varanasi.

In Prayagraj, she will meet the family of CRPF soldier Mahesh Yadav, who was killed in the Pulwama terror attack last month. Priyanka Gandhi will have a darshan at Vidhyachal temple and Chandrika Devi in Mirzapur. She will also meet party men, women self-help groups and hold a roadshow there on Tuesday. She will interact with weavers and members of boatmen community and others on her way.

The Congress leader will be in Prime Minister Modi’s parliamentary seat of Varanasi on Wednesday. She will pay a visit to the residence of former prime minister late Lal Bahadur Shastri in Ramnagar area and later offer prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath temple. She will also take part in a Holi Milan programme besides meeting Congress workers at the district party’s office before leaving for New Delhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claims about the development work done by him in his Lok Sabha seat and his government’s ambitious projects like the “Namami Gange” and waterways may come under close scrutiny as Priyanka Gandhi Vadra undertakes her river journey to Varanasi.

Namami Gange, or National Mission for Clean Ganga, is one of the flagship programmes of the Modi government. It was launched in June 2014 as an “integrated conservation mission” with an initial budget outlay of Rs 20,000 crore to “accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of national river Ganga”.

She also interacted with party workers in state capital Lucknow on Sunday to review the state unit’s preparedness for the Lok Sabha election 2019.

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