Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra waved at people and took scores of selfies as she went on a roadshow through the bustling streets of Ghaziabad near Delhi, where her party's candidate is taking on the BJP's VK Singh, a union minister and former army chief, in the national election starting next week. "Think carefully before voting, those in power have forgotten you gave them power," she said, addressing a crowd from the sunroof of an SUV.
Congress supporters lined the streets, waving Congress flags and screaming her name.
In roadshows with her brother Rahul Gandhi, the Congress president, Priyanka Gandhi rarely speaks. Today, she ended her speech saying: "I have spoken a lot, now I will move ahead."
She used sharp words to hit back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been attacking the Gandhis for much of his campaign across the country.
"He keeps saying Nehru did this, Indira did this. Arrey Modiji, tell us what you did in five years?" She paused, grinning, for the cheering and clapping to die down.
The Congress, desperately seeking a revival in Uttar Pradesh, a state where it stopped counting decades ago, hopes Priyanka Gandhi's launch as one of the state's in-charges will do the trick. For years, Priyanka's much-talked about charisma and mass connect has been confined to only the two Gandhi family constituencies of Amethi and Raebareli.
"I will tell you a story. I went to Varanasi 15 days ago. I thought the PM must have done a lot. He is so good at campaigning that even I was swayed. But there, I was told that he gives speeches and leaves. I am stunned that in five years, he did not have five minutes to spare for the poor families of his constituency," said the 47-year-old.
"He went to Japan and hugged, went to US and hugged, went to Pakistan and had biryani, went to China and hugged. But have you seen him huge a poor family in Varanasi?"
She went on to target PM Modi on his nationalist narrative. "He calls himself nationalist. If he is truly one, he should respect all martyrs, whether Hindu, Muslim or the rival party (leader's) father.
This was her first roadshow in this part of Uttar Pradesh.
On Thursday, she went with her brother when he filed his nomination papers to contest from Kerala's Wayanad.
Ghaziabad will vote in the first phase of the April 11. In the 2014 elections, VK Singh had defeated Congress candidate Raj Babbar by over 5.5 lakh votes.
The seven-phase election will end on May 19 and the results will be declared on May 23.
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