Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, on the first day of a boat-ride on the river Ganga that will take her to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Varanasi, had a sharp comeback for his "Main Bhi Chowkidar" campaign. "Chowkidars are for the rich, not farmers," she said, taking a dig at the campaign that had most BJP leaders adopting the prefix "Chowkidar" or watchman on Twitter.
During the three-day boat campaign, the Congress leader will travel from Prayagraj to Varanasi while making stops at various places in between. "Yesterday I met with a group of farmers... The potato farmers of western UP. One of the farmers told me, chowkidars are for the rich. We farmers are our own chowkidars," Priyanka Gandhi remarked.
PM Modi was the first to add "Chowkidar" to his name on his Twitter handle to mark the BJP's "Main Bhi Chowkidar" campaign pitching the ruling party as the country's main force fighting against corruption. Soon, BJP leaders including president Amit Shah and several union ministers had followed.
PM Modi tweeted: "My best wishes to all you chowkidars. Very pleased with your enthusiasm. Owing to your watchfulness corruption is on the wane and thieves are feeling the pain."
The campaign is the BJP's fightback after Congress president Rahul Gandhi - Priyanka Gandhi's older brother -- repeatedly mocked the Prime Minister's use of the phrase chowkidar" (watchman) to describe his fight against corruption. "Chowkidar chor hai (the watchman is a thief)," Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly said in his rallies and press meets, accusing the Prime Minister of corruption and crony capitalism in the Rafale fighter jet deal.
The Prime Minister turned it into a nationwide campaign asserting that "anyone working hard for the progress of India" is a "chowkidar".
"Your Chowkidar is standing firm and serving the nation. But, I am not alone. Everyone who is fighting corruption, dirt, social evils is a Chowkidar. Everyone working hard for the progress of India is a Chowkidar. Today, every Indian is saying-#MainBhiChowkidar," he tweeted.
Addressing another gathering, Priyanka Gandhi alleged that the government was suppressing people. "This country is yours, this democracy is yours and even this politics is yours. It is only because of people that we exist. There can be no Priyanka Gandhi without you people," she told people near Dumduma Ghat.
The Congress is banking on Priyanka Gandhi's campaign to reclaim lost ground in Uttar Pradesh, where it has been irrelevant for years. The party's rout in the 2014 national election was exacerbated by its poor haul in Uttar Pradesh, India's most politically vital state with the most number of seats (80). On the other hand, the BJP scored 71 seats - two more with its allies - and this formed the lion's share of its spectacular mandate.
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