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

Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Priyanka left Swaraj Bhawan for Sangam at around 9.30am as enthusiastic Congress workers and supporters carrying placards in her support waved at her on the way.

lok sabha elections Updated: Mar 18, 2019 23:22 IST
Kenneth John and K Sandeep Kumar
Kenneth John and K Sandeep Kumar
Hindustan Times, Prayagraj
Lok Sabha Elections,Lok Sabha Polls,General Elections 2019
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra offered prayers before embarking on her three-day 140-km ‘Ganga Yatra’ from Prayagraj Varanasi at Mannaiya ghat on a steamer. (HT Photo)

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra began a three-day poll campaign on a steamer on Monday, a journey that will culminate in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi after a 140km journey on the Ganga.

Priyanka Gandhi, who reached the holy city a day ago, stayed overnight at her ancestral home Swaraj Bhawan, where her grandmother and former prime minister Indira Gandhi was born. She reached the river bank in the morning on Monday and offered prayers at a temple before kicking off her campaign in the politically crucial state.

“Ganga maiyaa (Mother Ganga) is very generous. She will bless us,” Priyanka Gandhi, who made her political entry in January and was made the party incharge for eastern Uttar Pradesh, said in an interaction with reporters.

Watch: Priyanka launches Cong poll campaign with ‘Ganga Yatra’, slams NDA govt

As her steamer set sail, the 47-year-old leader, carrying a microphone, waved at the people on the banks. She also held a 45-minute interaction with a group of students on board the steamer during the “Ganga Yatra”. The students, who represented different backgrounds and cities, discussed their problems before getting off at Dumduma, about 20km from Mannaiya, the starting point.

Congress workers, who waited for her in Prayagraj, sang “bhajans” and patriotic songs, and shouted slogans such as “Priyanka nahi ye andhi hai, doosri Indira Gandhi hai (She is not just Priyanka but a storm, she is the second Indira Gandhi)”.

“Priyanka has come to the Sangam to seek the blessings of Ganga maiyya. Like the holy river, the Congress wants to embrace all,” Uttar Pradesh Congress president Raj Babbar said.

Catch live update here.

On Monday, Priyanka Gandhi renewed her attack on PM Modi’s government, alleging that it was “run by four or five people who thought that they could do as they pleased”. “However, the country is not anyone’s property,” she said, asking people to “wake up and save the country”.

At Sirsa ghat, she said it was the people that should sit on the dais as citizens made politicians what they were. She said the gatherings at all her meetings on Monday were a proof that people wanted a change in governance. She also conducted a door-to-door campaign in Sirsa, where residents showered rose petals from their rooftops.

She also took a swipe at Modi’s “main bhi chowkidar” campaign on Twitter, saying “chowkidars are for the rich, not for farmers”. Citing the BJP’s promises that have remained “unfulfilled”, she asked, “Have two crore jobs been given...has our prime minister ever come here...he has been travelling all over the world.”

Also read| Priyanka Gandhi starts Ganga Yatra with prayers and boat ride

“They think that by misleading you all they will remain in power. All institutions are being destroyed...the country cannot run like this...,” she said. “I could have also sat at home. I have come out as the country is in danger, the country’s Constitution is in danger...so vote wisely,” she added.

Congress spokesman Akhilesh Pratap Singh said people had decided to bring about a change. “The promises made by the BJP before coming to power have not been fulfilled. They no longer even talk about it,” he alleged.

Speaking at Sitamarhi in Bhadohi district during a stopover, Priyanka Gandhi said she had seen her family making sacrifices for the country. She said neither her brother (Congress president Rahul Gandhi) nor she had any interest in “satta (power)”. She reiterated that the purpose of her three-day journey was to save the country and the Constitution.

Also read: Priyanka will make no difference to BJP’s poll prospects, says Yogi

Priyanka Gandhi also said in 2019 India will not go to a just a simple “chunav (election)” but will face a “chunauti (challenge)” to get rid of a government that was not looking into the sufferings of the people.

During her journey, Priyanka Gandhi will stop at villages located near the riverbanks and meet people.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hit out at the Congress leader. UP BJP spokesman Navin Srivastava criticised her for not paying a visit to her late grandfather Feroze Gandhi’s final resting place in the city. “It’s shocking how the Congress top leadership has conveniently tried to ignore their own. Which then makes us ask why is it so?” Srivastava asked.

Polling will be held in seven phases in Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats, from April 11 to May 19. Results will be announced on May 23.

Also read| ‘Will reach out on boat, bus, train’: Priyanka’s letter ahead of Ganga yatra

First Published: Mar 18, 2019 14:29 IST