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Priyanka bursts out at Vadra-baiters
Vow to hit back at ‘attacks’

Priyanka shares a meal with a villager while campaigning for her mother Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli in Tuesday. (PTI)

Lucknow, April 22: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra today broke her silence on the continued “political” attacks on her husband and vowed to fight back, saying her resolve would get stronger with every attempt to “humiliate” her family.

“Do you watch TV? When you switch on your TV what do you see? Harsh words, ridicule and banter (aimed at) my family. A lot of things are being said about my husband. I feel pained,” she told a roadside rally in her mother Sonia Gandhi’s constituency Rae Bareli, 80km from here.

“They have targeted my husband for political attacks. It has been going on for two years now and I feel very strongly about it.”

This is the first time Priyanka has broken her silence on the Opposition’s attack on her businessman husband Robert Vadra. It was also the first time that she vowed to fight back in what was, perhaps, one of her most impassioned speeches since she visited the Uttar Pradesh constituency in 2004 for her maiden campaign for her mother.

“The more they humiliate us, the stronger will be my resolve to fight,” she told the crowd in Gangaganj, Harchandrapur.

Robert Vadra

The sentiment-laced speech came after Priyanka had quoted from the letters of an author she said had recently died, though it wasn’t clear if it was Gabriel Garcia Marquez she had in mind. The Colombian writer passed away last week.

“The author,” Priyanka said, “had written ‘don’t speak what you think but speak what you feel’. So I am here to speak what I feel about the politics of this country,” she added, before going on to share her pain with voters in Rae Bareli.

Earlier this week Narendra Modi had told a rally “Vadra’s wealth had increased from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 300 crore in just 3 years”. The BJP mascot also dripped sarcasm when he called Vadra a “magician”.

The controversy involving Vadra had started in October 2012 with AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal’s allegations of corruption against the businessman in a land deal. It snowballed as the elections drew closer, with BJP leaders increasingly targeting Vadra.

Late last year, the Supreme Court had rejected a public interest plea for a CBI probe into allegations that Vadra had benefited from controversial land deals, saying a person couldn’t be called a “sinner” merely because of their political affiliations.

In Rae Bareli this afternoon, Priyanka spoke of the “poison” in the political discourse. “This election should have been fought on the issues of development, the way we go about development, needs of the people, employment for youth. Far away from these, an attempt is being made to mislead you with meaningless talk, poison is being mixed in the political discourse.”

Priyanka, who was scheduled to reach at 9.30 this morning but arrived half an hour past noon, appealed to voters in the constituency not to be misled. “I am hurt by the attacks, but I have learnt this from Indira Gandhi that the truth becomes a badge of courage, she used to tell us that truth becomes a shield when you pursue it,” she said, invoking her late grandmother who once held the seat.

“This is the land of Lord Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi where a principle of liberalism shapes its identity. This country, its people, have treated my mother as their own although she came from outside. You have poured out your love and affection for Soniaji. This is the country’s identity.”

Priyanka appealed to voters to back her mother, who faces the BJP’s Ajay Aggarwal, a Supreme Court lawyer, in the April 30 election.

“I am not here to ask for anything. You have given us so much — to me, my mother. We have a family kinship with you. I have no doubt that you will vote for my mother for all the good work she has done,” she said.

“Rae Bareli knows Soniaji works honestly. But more than that, cast your vote for your country, for its future and for the future of your children.”

Rae Bareli votes on April 30