|Rahul and Priyanka in Amethi on Thursday. (PTI)
Jan. 23: If some of Kumar Vishwas’s recent remarks have not been music to many Indians’ ears, don’t count Rahul Gandhi among them.
The Congress vice-president today dubbed the Aam Aadmi Party leader a bhopu (trumpet) without naming him.
Vishwas, who intends to take on Rahul from Amethi in this summer’s Lok Sabha elections, has been camping in the constituency since January 12, accusing the Gandhi scion of failing to bring development to his home turf.
Rahul, who arrived in Amethi yesterday on a two-day trip, was today asked by reporters about Vishwas’s description of his visit as a “political picnic”.
“My father had always advised me to serve the people and work for the marginalised,” Rahul said. “I don’t want to become a bhopu like others.”
Vishwas, who has challenged Rahul to a public debate on issues including the Congress’s dynastic politics and called him a babua (little boy), hadn’t reacted till late this evening.
The Aam Aadmi Party leader has recently had to apologise after a video clip showed him mocking nurses from the south of the country because of the colour of their skin.
“Bahut log aate jaate rehte hain (many people keep coming and going),” Rahul said. “Mera to Amethi se prem ka rishta hai (my relation to Amethi is one of love).”
In an apparent reply to Vishwas’s charge of underdevelopment, he said he (the Centre) had expanded the national highway network in Amethi to facilitate industrialisation but it was the state government’s job to build a supporting state road network.
He added that Delhi had been sending funds regularly but Lucknow wasn’t making good enough use of them.
“Amethi has seen a flurry of development projects for the generation of employment. A petroleum institute and a steel factory have been set up; a paper mill is going to be opened soon,” Rahul said.
He said he had built a network of self-help groups for women, which had provided livelihood to over 12 lakh women.
Rahul had told the media yesterday that during his travels in Amethi, he had seen eight young men sporting Aam Aadmi Party caps. He said they told him they would continue wearing the caps but work for him.
Asked if he was ready for the responsibility of becoming the Prime Minister, he said: “If my party is elected to power and the MPs choose me their leader, then I might consider it.”
Rahul backed party chief and mother Sonia Gandhi’s decision not to name a prime ministerial candidate before the polls, saying: “Only MPs elect their leader for Prime Minister.”
Earlier, he had reeled off the names of several senior party leaders — such as P. Chidambaram, Salman Khurshid and Digvijaya Singh — who he said were fit to occupy the highest post.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who had arrived in Amethi with her brother yesterday, accompanied him to Jais, Munshiganj and Akeula, where they heard local people’s complaints about bad roads.
Last evening, as Rahul was on his way to the Munshiganj guesthouse from the Fursatganj airstrip, he had stopped his convoy and called an old woman to sit beside him.
When she sat beside Rahul in his car, the Amethi MP smiled at the media contingent following him and said: “She is my family; my relation with her has been for generations as Amethi is my home and its people are part of my family.”