Don’t know PM’s caste, Congress fighting polls on development plank: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

BAHRAICH/AMETHI (UP): A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi targeted the opposition over “politics of caste”, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Sunday said her party never made personal remarks against the PM and was fighting the ongoing Lok Sabha polls on the issue of development.

Speaking to reporters in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi, the Congress general secretary said she doesn’t know Modi’s caste.

“Till today, I don’t know as to which caste prime minister belongs to. The opposition has never talked on these lines. The Congress is only raising the issue of development in this election, which are directly related to the people,” she said.

“As I had said, we have raised the issue of employment, farmers and security of women. We have been talking on these problems. We have never indulged in making personal remarks at him,” she added.

On Saturday, the prime minister had slammed the SP-BSP-RLD alliance in Uttar Pradesh, saying the tie-up of “opportunists” wants a helpless government because its mantra is “jaat, paat japna; janata ka maal apna” (play politics of caste and pocket people’s money).

“Mayawatiji (BSP chief), I am most backward…I request with folded hands not to drag me into caste politics, 130 crore people are my family,” he had said while addressing a rally in Kannauj.

“This country didn’t know my caste till my detractors abused me…I am thankful to Mayawatiji, Akhileshji (SP chief), Congress people and the ‘mahamilavatis’ that they are discussing my caste… I believe that taking birth in a backward caste is an opportunity to serve the country,” the prime minister had said.

Hitting back, Mayawati said the prime minister had included his caste among the backwards during his tenure as the Gujarat chief minister for political benefits.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Congress leader P Chidambaram and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav also joined the war of words.

While Yadav called Modi a “fake OBC”, Chidambaram said he campaigned for becoming prime minister while wearing his caste on his sleeves.

Taking potshots at the opposition leaders, Jaitley said the prime minister has never done caste politics and is inspired by nationalism.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra hit out at the BJP over the issue of nationalism.

“What type of nationalism is there in ‘main hoon Modi’ (I am Modi)? What is the meaning of nationalism? It means patriotism and love for the country. Who is the country? Its people and their love.”

“If you have affinity only towards yourself, then what type of nationalism is this?” she said.

She also accused Modi of not visiting even a single village in his constituency and not asking anyone about their problems.

“Arranging a crowd using the power of money and addressing them or sending a message to them is very easy,” she said, adding the real challenge is to resolve the problems of people.

“The ground reality is absolutely different. When you speak to the people, a different message emanates and I have never seen the prime minister or the BJP leaders accepting that message,” she said.

She described the policies of the BJP as “anti-people”, “anti-youth” and “anti-farmers”.

“The menace of stray animals is very much here and the farmers are forced to keep a watch on their crops during night. There are still some places where electricity supply is absent,” she said.

The Congress leader also dubbed the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) an insult to farmers.

Addressing a rally in Bahraich, she said: “The BJP is, in fact, insulting the farmers in the name of the Kisan Samman Yojana, which the prime minister discusses very much, as it will give only Rs 3.50 per day to the beneficiary. This is ‘Kisan Apmaan Yojana’ (a scheme to insult the farmers).”

Under the PM-KISAN scheme, Rs 6,000 per year will be given in three instalments to 12 crore small and marginal farmers holding cultivable land up to two hectares.

Comparing the PM-KISAN to the Congress’ minimum income guarantee promise, she said, “On the other hand, the Congress has announced that it will give Rs 6,000 per month to the poor households (if voted to power).”

The Congress leader said the crop insurance scheme has not helped the farmers either, alleging it has instead benefited some industrialists.

Seeking votes for the party’s Bahraich candidate, Savitribai Phule, Vadra attacked the BJP over the alleged atrocities on Dalits and minorities. “I had met a few Dalit youngsters who had told me that they were beaten up and tortured since they had demanded their rights.”

“An effort is being made by the BJP to damage the Constitution, and institutions and democracy are being weakened,” she said.

Vadra said while the BJP leaders rake up the issue of Pakistan and nationalism, there are leaders who speak about redressing the people’s grievances.

“I feel that the biggest nationalism is listening to the voice of the people and resolving their problems,” she said. PTI