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Lok Sabha elections 2019: On first visit to Ayodhya, Priyanka Gandhi to launch Faizabad campaign

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is likely to begin her election campaign in the temple town with a ‘darshan’ at Hanuman Garhi temple.

lok sabha elections Updated: Mar 25, 2019 23:32 IST
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Umesh Raghuvanshi
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Lok Sabha election 2019,Lok Sabha election,General election
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at a public rally during her party's campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in UP, at Sirsa village in Prayagraj . (PTI)

After her three-day “Ganga Yatra” from Allahabad to Varanasi, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is likely to visit Ayodhya on Wednesday as she launches her campaign for the Faizabad Lok Sabha constituency in the Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh.

Priyanka Gandhi, who is the party’s in-charge for eastern UP, is likely to begin her election campaign in the temple town with a “darshan” to Hanuman Garhi temple, said a party leader. Later in the day, she will hold corner meetings and hold a road show in Ayodhya and Faizabad, the headquarters of Faizabad district that the Yogi Adityanath government renamed as Ayodhya in November. “Yes, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will reach Ayodhya on Wednesday morning. She may have ‘darshan’ at the Hanuman Garhi temple and some other temples in Ayodhya. She will hold corner meetings and a road show during her day long visit to the constituency,” said Ayodhya City Congress Committee president RP Singh.

Ayodhya has remained in the political focus after the Vishwa Hindu Parishad intensified its agitation on the Ram temple issue in the mid-1980s.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi too had visited the Hanuman Garhi temple for ‘darshan’ when he undertook “kisan yatra” [farmers’ procession] from Deoria to New Delhi in 2016 to turn the spotlight on issues concerning farmers.

Priyanka Gandhi’s visit is being considered politically significant in the backdrop of attempts by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders to keep the Ram temple issue in focus. Besides carrying out development work, chief minister Yogi Adityanath has been frequently visiting Ayodhya. The BJP government in the state has recently decided to set up what it called the “tallest statue” of Lord Rama on the banks of Saryu in Ayodhya.

Asked whether Ram temple issue will help the BJP in Ayodhya, former state Congress chief Nirmal Khatri, who is now the party candidate from the Faizabad Lok Sabha seat, insists that the issue does not matter for the local people. “We won this seat in 2009 despite the BJP’s consistent attempts to keep the issue in political focus in successive assembly and parliamentary elections. Our focus is now on issues concerning development, the youth and the farmers,” said Khatri, who had lost the seat to the BJP in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Priyanka Gandhi on Monday took a dig at “Namo Again” and “Chowkidaar” T-shirts, being sold as a part of poll merchandise. “BJP leaders are busy marketing T-shirts, if only they could pay attention to those suffering,” she tweeted. “The hard work of Uttar Pradesh’s ‘shiksha mitras’ is insulted every day. Scores of sufferers committed suicide. Those who took to the streets to protest were beaten with lathis, National Security Act was registered against them,” she said on Twitter, highlighting the issue of UP’s Shikshamitras (contractual teachers).

Taking a dig at her, BJP asked if she would “say sorry” for her party “putting hurdles” in building the Ram temple. “Will Priyanka Gandhi Vadra take the pious Saryu river waters in her hand there and atone the sins committed by the Congress in Ayodhya?” asked UP BJP spokesperson Chandramohan.

First Published: Mar 25, 2019 20:28 IST