Priyanka: Beware of braggarts and be aware. ‘Nothing can be more patriotic’

You show them that your patriotism will be reflected through harmony, love and non-violence, says Congress leader in Gandhinagar

By Sanjay K. Jha in New Delhi
  • Published 13.03.19, 2:52 AM
  • Updated 13.03.19, 3:52 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at the Gandhinagar rally on Tuesday. (PTI)

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said awareness and making conscientious decisions were the best expression of patriotism, taking head-on Narendra Modi’s jingoism on his home turf in her first public speech since formally entering politics.

“What is happening in the country today pains me. I want to tell you something from my heart: Nothing can be more patriotic today than being aware. Your awareness is a weapon. Your vote is a weapon. With this weapon, you don’t hurt anybody but empower yourself,” the Congress leader told a mammoth rally in Gandhinagar on Tuesday.

“You have to profoundly think what this election is about. What you are about to choose. You are going to choose your future. You can’t get distracted by irrelevant issues,” she continued.

With attempts to whip up war hysteria to divert attention from governance issues posing the biggest hurdle to the Opposition, Priyanka focused on explaining why voters should not allow jingoism to override their livelihood and safety concerns.

“You can keep your real concerns on the forefront with your awareness. Those who talk big in front of you, make lofty promises, you should ask them, ‘Where did the promised 2 crore jobs go? Where did the Rs 15 lakh (in every account) go?’ Did anyone spare a thought for women in the last five years? In the next two months, all kinds of issues will be hyped up to confuse you but your awareness can help you to ask the right questions, raise relevant issues. Being aware is your responsibility,” she said.

The rally followed a Congress prayer meeting at the Gandhi Ashram at Sabarmati.

Priyanka, inducted as general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh last month, did not mention Modi but called for a fitting reply to him.

Jo apni fitrat ki baat karte hain aapke saamne, aap unhe bataiye desh ki fitrat kya hai (Those who brag about their own nature in front of you, you tell them what this country’s nature is),” she said. “You show them that your patriotism will be reflected through harmony, love and non-violence. This country’s nature is to discover truth in every grain. This country’s nature is to transform the storm of hate into winds of affection. This voice will emerge from here, the land where Mahatma Gandhi launched the freedom movement.”

Modi had recently said it was his “fitrat” to enter rivals’ homes and beat them, alluding to the air strikes in Pakistan.

Priyanka said the people, not the leader, would set the agenda for the election and called on each one to recognise their responsibility to save the country. “You have to save this country. Recognise your responsibility. This election is truly no less than the freedom struggle… no task could be bigger than unitedly saving this country.”

While party president Rahul Gandhi has presented a fierce political critique of the Prime Minister, Priyanka subtly intervened in the post-Pulwama discourse, saying thoughts of the patriots who had sacrificed their lives for the country almost moved her to tears as she sat in the Sabarmati Ashram.

Invoking memories of the freedom fighters, she said their sacrifices had laid the country’s foundation. This was a polite reminder to the Modi-Amit Shah duo who acted as if they had a monopoly on patriotism and India didn’t see valour and sacrifice before they arrived.

Tweeting on Tuesday for the first time, she wrote: “‘I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.’ Mahatma Gandhi.”

Rahul, who spoke after Priyanka, triggered rapturous applause and sloganeering as he mouthed: “Chowkidar”. He said: “Now I don’t have to say Chor hai… people erupt automatically.” Even in Modi’s hometown, they did, in Gujarati —“Chor chhe”

Reuters
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