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In first campaign outside UP, Priyanka to hold roadshow in Assam’s Silchar

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will hold a roadshow on Sunday in Silchar, the constituency of Mahila Congress president Sushmita Dev.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 13, 2019 21:08 IST
Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Hindustan Times, Silchar
Lok Sabha eletions 2019,General elections 2019,Lpk Sabha election campaigning
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi will be in Silchar in Assam on Sunday in her first campaign outside Uttar Pradesh.(HT PHOTO)

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will be in Silchar in southern Assam on Sunday in her first campaign trip outside Uttar Pradesh.

Priyanka will hold a roadshow in Silchar, the constituency of Mahila Congress president Sushmita Dev who is battling both anti-incumbency and likely fallout of Congress’ opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) as she seeks another Lok Sabha term. Silchar in Barak Valley will vote in the second phase on April 18.

Dev said Priyanka will hold a two-hour road show on Sunday, a day before the Bengali speaking Barak Valley celebrates Bengali New Year.

“Priyanka Gandhi coming and campaigning in Silchar will make our win easier,” said Abhijit Pal, general secretary, Congress, Cachar district committee.

Last week, Congress President Rahul Gandhi sought a second term for Sushmita Dev as he addressed a rally in neighbouring Karimganj constituency. He did not bring up the CAB.

While the CAB had wide support in Cachar and Karimganj districts, it had sparked strong opposition in the rest of the northeast. The bill lapsed in February after failing to make it to the Rajya Sabha,

The BJP is upbeat on the Silchar constituency because of the Congress’ opposition to the CAB. “We are gaining here because the Congress is opposing the CAB, the biggest issue here. They are not talking about the interests of the Bengali refugee population,” said Kabindra Purkayastha, former Union Minister and veteran BJP leader whom Dev defeated in the 2104 Lok Sabha elections.

Despite opposition in other parts of Northeast, BJP has promised to bring in CAB with consultation and consensus. Winning Silchar constituency is high on BJP’s list of priorities with even Prime Minister Narendra Modi holding two rallies here since January.

In his last rally on April 11, PM Modi again attacked the Congress and said how Congress made Gurudwaras and temples goers in Pakistan and Bangladesh, stateless when they came to India, their country of origin. Modi promised to bring in the bill after talking to everyone in the society and “securing the identity of Assamese brothers and sisters.”

Dev insists this caveat of talking to everyone is Modi’s u-turn on the issue. “It has become crystal clear,” she said as she campaigned in the streets of Silchar.

She said the BJP’s alliance with Asom Gana Parishad has also exposed the party. “What is AGP and what happened in the Assam agitation an average Bengali person knows,” she said. “People are not fools, the BJP can keep saying what they want to,” Dev said. “What Bengalis think of AGP you ask anyone on the streets,” she said.

Dev, also reiterated her stand on the CAB. “People on the 2014 voters list are citizens as far as I am concerned,” she said.

Meanwhile, Purkayastha said Priyanka’s visit will not have any impact. “She is a newcomer in the Congress,” he said.

First Published: Apr 13, 2019 21:06 IST