Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is campaigning in eastern Uttar Pradesh for the remaining stretch of the national election, was seen holding up snakes today in Raebareli, the parliamentary constituency of her mother Sonia Gandhi. She was interacting with a group of snake charmers when she picked up snakes from a box and petted them.
"Kuchh nahi karega, aap kyu ghabra rahein ho? (It won't do anything. Why are you afraid?)" Ms Gandhi told a man standing behind her.
Ms Gandhi was seated on chair, looking down at the snakes coiled in boxes. The snake charmers, squatting on the ground, were heard complaining to her about their issues.
Another man said, "band karo (close it)." Ms Gandhi replied, "darr rahein ho?(are you afraid)"
The Congress general secretary's unusual act invited mixed responses on Twitter.
Fearless Priyanka. Where angels fear to tread, she nonchalantly picks up creepy snakes and caresses them.— Raymond Albert F (@raalferns) May 2, 2019
Shows the steel in her. She will soon display her nettle after the elections.
Playing with snakes is dangerous. Congress should have realized by now.— Arun Tripathi (@arunstripathi) May 2, 2019
Though snake charming has long been associated with tradition, it is a banned activity under the Wildlife Protection Act.
Priyanka Gandhi had come under criticism after she said on Wednesday that Congress candidates would cut into BJP votes wherever they were not strong enough to win. "It is clear that our candidates are putting up a tough fight. Where they are strong enough, they will win on their own. Where they carry less weight, we have fielded such candidates that they would eat into BJP votes," the Congress general secretary had said.
Responding to a question on her campaign ending up helping the BJP by weakening the opposition gathbandhan of Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), she told NDTV, "I would rather kill myself than help the BJP in any way."