The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Young Gandhi guns boom

Lucknow, April 9: The occasional booms of the Bofors gun acquired a new twang today with Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi breaking the family’s silence to brush aside the latest salvo fired by the BJP.

Formally kicking off his campaign in Amethi, Rahul said: “Whenever I step out of home to do anything, I hear (the) Bofors controversy. The new outcry is (meant) to intimidate me, my family.”

Yesterday, Atal Bihari Vajpayee led the BJP in questioning Sonia’s Gandhi’s role in the deal.

But son Rahul continued unfazed with his campaign routine today. Stepping out of Munshiganj guesthouse, he toured villages in Amethi. Sister Priyanka was by his side, drawing large crowds everywhere, before she headed to Rae Bareli to launch their mother’s campaign.

Rahul toured six villages, speaking to people and occasionally walking with the crowd. On the way to Gauriganj, he came upon a group of journalists. “So you guys are following me everywhere'” he asked.

When the Bofors case cropped up, Rahul said: “The issue is now a closed chapter after the court has absolved former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of all the charges but some people are bent upon making it an election issue to gain political capital which is quite unfair.”

Asked if raking up the scandal now was a political conspiracy, Rahul said: “Ye political hai. Atharaan saal se kya sazish hai, aap bataeeye, hamein to nahin maloom (It is political. What is this conspiracy that has dragged on for 18 years. You tell us, we can’t figure it out).”

But the family would ignore the attacks, he asserted. “I told you earlier, they (Congress’ rivals) would try this game. But neither me nor my family would try any counter attack. They are trying their best to provoke us for their own political mileage.”

In Rae Bareli, Priyanka echoed her brother. “Let them raise the issue and harp on it,” she said.

Asked about her mother’s prospects, Priyanka said: “We have already won hearts of the people of Rae Bareli and winning the election is just a matter of time.”

During his roadshows Rahul had said: “We are not taught in our family to worry about what the opposition was telling about us. We are on the other hand taught to stick to our goal. They might vilify, abuse and even kill us. I am not afraid of death.”

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