Priyanka challenges Modi in his home turf

The newly inducted general secretary for Eastern Uttar Pradesh delivers her debut speech from Gujarat, the citadel of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, writes Aditi Chahar

Priyanka Gandhi’s uncanny resemblance with her grandmother and former Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi makes her the cynosure of all eyes. Many in the meeting came just to have a glimpse of her and commented that they had seen most politicians, heard them but were keen to see Priyanka Gandhi. Many among the crowd observed that “Poori Indira Gandhi hai” (She is an exact replica of Indira Gandhi).

Will this be a masterstroke by Congress Party? That nobody can predict at this stage but she has a charisma attached to her. In fact, many at the meeting left after her speech while Rahul Gandhi, the Party President had just begun to speak.  Of course, people at the rally stopped when told by the organizers that Rahul Gandhi was to deliver an important speech. However, her soft speech and an instant rapport with the people make her a different leader. At Sabarmati Ashram, she had taken a backseat, at the CWC meeting, she sat chatting with her
fellow general secretary, Jyotiraditya Scindia but finally at the rally, she came on her own. She launched a direct attack on the prime minister but without naming him.

Her simplicity “I don’t deliver speeches, these are just my feelings that I am sharing with you all”, made her develop a perfect rapport with the people present. But her flawless Hindi made her stand out from the rest.

“To those who talk about fitrat, the fitrat of this nation is to seek the truth, the fitrat of this nation is to blow away the winds of hate with love.” She seems to have taken a cue from the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi who had been using word “fitrat” too often. In fact, at his Ahmedabad rally, Modi had talked about the “fitrat to avenge every wrongdoing and hunt down terrorists in their own backyard”.

PM Modi had said: “Chun chun ke hisab lena mera fitrat hai. (It is my nature to avenge every wrongdoing)” The words were directed at Pakistan, days after India sent its fighter jets to bomb a terror camp in Balakot across the border. The air strikes were in response to a suicide attack in Kashmir’s Pulwama on February 14, in which 40 soldiers were killed.

Priyanka Gandhi made her point clear when she said that Lok Sabha polls are no less than a second fight for “independence”, Priyanka took digs at the Prime Minister, without naming him as to where were the two crore jobs and 15 lakh in every account, also women’s security. Addressing an audience in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Gujarat she: “Your vote is your weapon. Make the right decision, ask the right questions.”

This election is “nothing less” than the Independence movement. “Think and decide – those who talk big in front of you, where are the jobs they promised? What about Rs. 15 lakh in every bank account that they talked about? What about women’s safety?” she said at the rally in Ahmedabad, dressed in a white and blue sari.

Huge cutouts of her grandmother Indira Gandhi at the venue in Gandhinagar reminded many in the crowds of her striking resemblance to the former prime minister. She said in the next two months, “they will raise all kinds of issues. Ask the right questions, this is your country. You have to guard the country. “This is nothing less than the independence movement. Our institutions are being attacked, hatred is being spread everywhere. There can be a no bigger thing than guarding the country and moving ahead together.”

“This nation is based on love and brotherhood. It is sad at what is happening in the country these days. There is no bigger patriotism than awareness. Your awareness is a weapon; your
vote is a weapon. It is a weapon that will not hurt or harm anyone. It is a weapon that will strengthen you,” she said. Priyanka Gandhi was the star speaker at the rally.

Before the rally at Gandhinagar, the Congress Working Committee came out with its resolution which read “ On this 89th anniversary of the Dandi Satyagrah, the Congress Working Committee is meeting in the land of birth of the Father of the Nation, who had courageously led the historic struggle of Indian people to liberate India from British imperialism. This year, India will commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, recognising that the values he espoused, have an enduring relevance not only for India but the entire world”. Gujarat also gave to the nation Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel — an ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi and a front ranking leader of India’s freedom movement, who is remembered for his indomitable spirit.

This meeting of the CWC, saluting the memory of Gandhi ji, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and the leaders of the freedom struggle, recalls their unflinching commitment to the unity of the Indian people and in upholding the composite culture of our multilingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural society. They all believed in harmonious coexistence of Indian people, celebrated its pluralism, and firmly rejected the divisive and pernicious ideology of Hindutva propagated by the RSS and its affiliates.

The resolution said that the “Prime Minister Modi and the BJP are insulting their struggle, sacrifices and enormous contribution in nation building by brazenly seeking to hijack their legacy and pretending to be the champions of their values”. The resolution said that 2019 will also mark the centenary of the Jalianwala Bagh massacre. The Congress Party recalls with respect those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom and salutes their martyrdom.

This meeting of the CWC took place in the painful backdrop of the dastardly terror attack in Pulwama and the tragic killing of forty Jawans of the CRPF, which has outraged India and its people. This attack is a grim reminder of the serious threat posed by the forces of terrorism to the unity and integrity of our country. The Congress Party unequivocally condemned the attack and expressed its solidarity with our soldiers and Armed Forces. Congress President offered the Congress Party’s support to the Government in the hour of national crisis.

The CWC resolution said that “India as a mature democracy has different viewpoints and ideologies represented by different political parties. Dissent and articulation of ideological differences are integral to our political narrative, especially during elections. These must not be mistaken as weakness or disunity of the country”. The CWC sends a stern and unequivocal message to India’s enemies that India stands united and resolute as one nation to confront and defeat their nefarious agenda. India is a resilient democracy, proud of its brave Armed Forces. It shall never be defeated by forces of violence and terror.

It pointed out that the Congress Party expresses its strong disappointment that the Prime Minister is cynically exploiting the issue of National Security, on which we are all united, to divert attention from his colossal failures, bogus claims and persistent falsehoods. India’s democracy is its strength and gives a voice to our people especially the weak and marginalised sections of our society. Five years of Modi-BJP Government has been a period of false promises and betrayal of people’s trust and confidence.

This Government has been a failure on all fronts and has inflicted pain and misery on the people through its reckless decisions of demonetisation and the hasty imposition of a flawed GST. These disrupted the Indian economy and Trade and Industry. Lakhs of factories were closed, unorganised sector, micro, small and medium enterprises were worst affected and tens of millions of workers lost their jobs and livelihood.

The unprecedented joblessness, agrarian crisis, and distress of Kisans and Khet mazdoors are issues of grave national concern. The Modi Government is guilty of monumental mismanagement of the Indian economy. National savings and investments have sharply declined, Banks are burdened with NPA’s and credit off-take of the Industry has reached a record low. Exports are stagnant and industrial production has been falling continuously notwithstanding Government’s boastful and misleading claims.

An atmosphere of fear and insecurity is all pervasive particularly among women, students, academics, writers and the business community; there are deliberate attacks on the Constitutional and other safeguards for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, OBCs and minorities; and there is a subversion of all institutions of governance.

This meeting of the CWC reaffirmed its commitment to serving India and its people in our endeavour for inclusive growth and shared prosperity. CWC assures the people that the Congress Party believes in what it promises and has proven its credibility on delivering the same. In the run-up to the recent assembly elections in the state of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Congress President had promised a loan waiver to the farmers. The recently formed Congress governments in these states honoured this promise by waiving the farmer’s loans. The CWC endorsed the promise made by the Congress President to ensure minimum income support to the poor, weak and marginalised sections of
society when the Congress party comes to power.