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Priyanka fires hooch salvo at BJP

Illicit liquor has killed 110 people in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand since Friday

By Piyush Srivastava in Lucknow
  • Published 11.02.19, 2:49 AM
  • Updated 11.02.19, 9:06 AM
  • 2 mins read
Although Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has campaigned for her mother and brother in Rae Bareli and Amethi since 2004, she has never before issued a media release. Picture by Prem Singh

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra issued her first ever media release on Sunday, attacking the BJP for the hooch tragedy in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, where illicit liquor has killed 110 people since Friday.

“I am shocked and very sad that more than 100 people have died in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh… and the deaths are continuing,” she said the night before a four-day trip to Lucknow for a road show and poll discussions.

The Hindi release, uploaded on the Congress Twitter handle, indicated she would be adopting an aggressive posture against the two states’ BJP governments.

“It is beyond imagination that the trade in illicit liquor is running under the patronage of the Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh governments. I hope the BJP governments will take stringent action against the criminals and provide adequate compensation and government jobs to the families of the dead,” it said.

“I am aggrieved to hear about such a sad incident and express my condolences to the grieving families.”

Although Priyanka has campaigned for her mother and brother in Rae Bareli and Amethi since 2004 and interacted frequently with people and journalists, she has never before issued a media release.

Hooch has killed 60 people in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, since Friday while at least 15 have died in Kushinagar, adjoining Gorakhpur, the home district of chief minister Yogi Adityanath. Thirty-five have died in Roorkee town of Haridwar, Uttarakhand.

The two state governments have announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for each bereaved family.

Mayawati on Sunday accused BJP governments of turning a blind eye to hooch rackets because the victims tend to be poor day labourers.

“This is proof that BJP governments are insensitive and anti-poor. The heads of government at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh are too busy with narrow politics to think about the deaths,” the Bahujan Samaj Party president said.

Mayawati underlined that similar tragedies had occurred in both these states in the past and demanded a CBI probe as well as suspensions for both states’ excise ministers.

“These people died because the state governments and their agencies were not doing their job honestly. So it is these governments’ responsibility to show some sensitivity and give jobs to one member from each bereaved family,” she said.

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav has claimed that the state government was aware of the illicit liquor racket but was not willing to act.

Harish Rawat, former Congress chief minister of Uttarakhand, said: “Most of the victims were the sole breadwinners in their families. We have demanded that both governments give higher compensation and a job to one member from each victim’s family. But it appears that the BJP governments have other priorities.”

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