Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra slammed the BJP on Saturday for turning patriotism into an election issue and ignoring the poor and farmers, saying had the ruling party leaders been patriots they would not have been “selective” in respecting martyrs.
Addressing a ‘nukkad sabha’ in favour of Congress nominee Rakesh Sachan here, the Congress general secretary incharge of eastern Uttar Pradesh said, “The issue of patriotism is raised whenever elections come, but the real questions on farmers, unemployed, women safety are left behind.”
On a day-long visit to the constituency, during which she held a roadshow clad in a red cotton saree, Priyanka cited the examples of demonetisation and BJP’s promise to bring back blackmoney to say that “big announcements (by this government) are often linked to patriotism.”
The government has said high-value banknotes were demonetised suddenly in Nov 2016 in “national interest” and to curb blackmoney circulation.
“During demonetisation, people were asked to stand in queues stating it was patriotism as this will bring back blackmoney. Was it brought back? Not a single paisa came back. But people were harassed,” Priyanka said.
“Is there anyone who is not a patriot?”
“All are patriots. The biggest patriotism is having faith in democracy and using right to vote judiciously as a weapon. Remaining aware and vigilant is biggest patriotism,” she stressed.
The Congress leader, who arrived to a rousing reception at the Kanpur airport earlier in the day and reached here by road, said, “You all know how leaders like us are… Make them stand on the dias and they will forget that it was you who gave them power. You will have to remain vigilant.”
Attacking the ruling party, she said, “BJP leaders make tall claims. Had they been such big patriots they would have respected the martyrs whether Hindus or Muslims or father of the Opposition party leader. You cannot be selective in this. So, respect Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi. If you are really patriots.”
Alleging that farmers have got a raw deal in the BJP government, she said thousands had marched to Delhi for loan waiver but were “sent back”.
“Where was your (BJP’s) patriotism. You slammed the doors when farmers needed you,” she said.
On the problem of unemployment, she said she has been meeting the jobless all over the country, and asked why the promises made to citizens of the country remain unfulfilled.
The Congress general secretary, who recently campaigned in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi, said when she enquired about the development there as tall claims had been made about it she was shown a 15-km road from the airport.
She was told, she said, the stretch was part of a 150-km road project announced during the rule of the previous UPA government.
Attacking Modi, she said he could not reach out to even a single poor family in his parliamentary constituency in the past five years.
“This is his ‘deshbhakti’? That he can go to Africa, America, China, Japan, Pakistan. Can have biryani and return but cannot seek the well-being of any poor in his own constituency.
“He made a tall claim in 2014 that Rs 15 lakh will be deposited in the bank accounts. Who has got that money?” she asked.
Stressing that the Congress party keeps its promises, she said Congress president Rahul Gandhi contacted former finance ministers to enquire how much can be given to the poor without harming the economy and this led to the concept of Nyay scheme, under which it has promised to give Rs 72,000 to 20 per cent poor families in the country.
There is a difference between Congress’s Nyay scheme and Rs 15-lakh promise of the the BJP, she said.
“… Soon after the 2013 election, their state unit president said it was only an election jumla while Congress’s promise on loan waiver in the assembly election in three states (MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan) has started taking shape,” she said.
The Congress general secretary also said that farmers were not getting the right remuneration for their produce and made to guard their fields in the night to protect their crops from stray cattle.
“When Congress announces separate budget for farmers, they say there is no budget for it but waives thousands of crores of industrialists who do not need that money. This is their reality,” she alleged.
“This country is based on non-violence and this is the first country based on truth. No amount of propaganda can hide truth…even if they say that nothing was done in 60 years,” she said.
Stressing that people have a lot of wisdom, she said it was because they had thought that Congress had “lost its way” they voted it out of power.
“But now your hopes have been crushed by BJP. You need to vote judiciously in the coming election which will decide the future of not just the people but also of the country,” she said.
She said her brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi wants to evolve a new kind of politics and so has sent her to strengthen the party organisation.
“You understand who has the right intention and who does not. Those who want to harm institutions want to harm you to keep you backward for the sake of their interest,” she added.
She also interacted with women at Aung.