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Priyanka to BJP: Respect all martyrs

Priyanka didn’t mention any name, nor did she speak about any specific incident, but the suggestion was difficult to miss

By Piyush Srivastava in Lucknow
  • Published 7.04.19, 7:54 AM
  • Updated 7.04.19, 7:54 AM
  • 2 mins read
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said the BJP has linked Modi’s 2016 demonetisation decision with nationalism. Picture by Prem Singh

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Saturday said BJP leaders talk big about nationalism but were selective in their respect for martyrs, urging people once again to be aware and not be misled by claims.

“It is your (people’s) responsibility to ask the BJP about their nationalism. For this you have to be aware. Awareness is the biggest nationalism,” the Congress general secretary for east Uttar Pradesh told a gathering in Aong in Fatehpur district.

“There are BJP leaders who make big claims about their nationalism in front of you. They would have shown their respect for every martyr if they were truly nationalist. They would have respected a Hindu or a Muslim martyr,” Priyanka said.

“Or the martyr may be the father of the leader of an Opposition party…. You (the BJP leaders) cannot respect martyrs selectively. If you are a nationalist, then respect every martyr.”

Priyanka didn’t mention any name, nor did she speak about any specific incident, but the suggestion was difficult to miss.

Her father, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, was assassinated by LTTE suicide bombers in May 1991.

This is not the first time that Priyanka has urged people to vote with awareness. It’s a point she has repeated several times since taking the plunge into active politics earlier this year.

Saturday’s call came in the backdrop of the BJP’s bid to focus on security and the nationalism narrative. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has in his speeches claimed that the Nehru-Gandhi family ruled India for decades but didn’t do anything for the country.

“They (the BJP leaders) don’t respect those who sacrificed their lives to build the country. They insult our freedom fighters; they insult those who founded India on the basis of truth and non-violence,” Priyanka said.

The BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, had often undermined the role of Mahatma Gandhi, while independent India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, the great-grandfather of Priyanka and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, has been a favourite target.

Priyanka said the BJP has also linked Modi’s 2016 demonetisation decision with nationalism.

“They (the BJP leaders) had claimed demonetisation was a move towards nationalism and said the decision would help in bringing back black money stashed in foreign banks. You were made to stand in queues. Did the country get back the black money? The Prime Minister doesn’t miss any opportunity to call himself a nationalist whenever he makes big announcements and dubs others anti-national,” she said before asking the crowd: “Is there anybody who is not a nationalist?”

Priyanka herself provided the answer: “Everybody in this country,” she said, “is a nationalist.”

The Congress leader addressed half a dozen meetings in Fatehpur in support of her party nominee, Rakesh Sachan, who had earlier been with the Samajwadi Party.

Sachan, who joined the Congress last month, had won the Lok Sabha from Fatehpur in 2009 as a Samajwadi candidate.

At another meeting in Fatehpur to which only women had been invited, Priyanka spoke of Rahul’s promise of a minimum income scheme if the Congress returns to power.

“My brother Rahul Gandhi has said that if voted to power, the Congress would give a minimum income of Rs 72,000 annually to poor women. You must support him,” she said.

“It is (the general election) a big opportunity that you get every five years. You need to understand that you have to ask questions to the candidates and take right decisions on the polling day,” Priyanka added.