The Telegraph
Thursday , April 24 , 2014
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Just what doctor ordered

Lucknow, April 23: A Priyanka dose a day is fortifying the Congress as it battles Narendra Modi in a tough election.

“If you talk about women’s empowerment, don’t eavesdrop on our phone calls,” Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said today in Rae Bareli, attacking the BJP mascot without naming him.

Holding an imaginary phone to her ears, which drew titters from the crowd of mostly women, she asked: “You are aware (of the allegations of snooping on a young woman in Gujarat), aren’t you?”

Yesterday, campaigning for mother Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli, Priyanka had promised to fight hard against those who were targeting her husband Robert Vadra to launch a political attack on her family. Modi had recently dubbed Vadra a “magician” who grew his wealth “from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 300 crore in just three years” and the BJP is running a sustained campaign against him.

“If all power is concentrated in the hands of one person, is it a good thing? Is it right? You have to think about it. Or should people have power?” Priyanka asked voters at another meeting, driving home the Congress slogan “We, not I.”

Some parties talk big and believe in giving all the powers to one person, she said. While it might appear that such people are strong leaders, Priyanka said, she had faith that the voters would see through their “khokhlapan (hollowness)”.

The Gandhi daughter also warned against “vinashak vichardhara (destructive ideology)”, repeating a point she had made yesterday when she said there was an attempt to inject poison in a land that has always been inclusive. “Elections are about unity and consolidating the identity of India. While voting, you have to decide which side you want to be on — the divisive side or the one that takes everyone along,” Priyanka said today.

She hit the road shortly after 9.30am, stopping along the way and striking up conversations. Her first stop among at least a dozen was in the Uchahar Assembly segment.

“I can see some members of a self-help group among the crowd. You have re-discovered your power. Now you have to understand your political strength. You have to remember that women have their own identity. They are not just daughters, sisters, wives and mothers. I find myself in all these roles. I am a sister to you all,” the 42-year-old mother of two said to a roar of applause.

The crowd chanted: “Priyankaji sangharsh karo, hum tumhare saath hai (Priyankaji fight back, we are with you).”

Priyanka then switched to the snooping scandal surrounding Modi. Without naming anyone, she said leaders who wrong women should be thrown out of parties.

She asked parties talking of women’s empowerment to come out with their plans. “Do they have a plan? If they have, they should place it before the people. I don’t think they have any. They just talk very vaguely about it,” she said.

During breaks in her campaigning, Priyanka has been seen bonding with the people, even having lunch with them. Yesterday, she shared a meal with Chandrakali Lodhi, an 89-year-old Dalit woman, at Banpurwa village.

Reports said Chandrakali spoke to her in Avadhi about her family and how she used to vote for Indira Gandhi.

Today, Priyanka visited the house of Mohammad Nasir in Nagfulwa village near Rae Bareli town. The Congress worker was killed on April 19 when a tree uprooted by a storm crushed his head.