- "Your vote is your weapon. Make the right decision": Priyanka Gandhi
- She targeted PM Modi without once taking his name
- The election, she said, was "nothing less" than Independence movement
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in her first rally as a Congress leader, addressed an audience in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Gujarat and appealed: "Your vote is your weapon. Make the right decision, ask the right questions." In the few words that marked her first election speech, the newly-minted Congress general secretary targeted PM Modi without once taking his name.
The April-May national election, she said, was "nothing less" than the Independence movement.
"Think and decide - those who talk big in front of you, where are the jobs they promised? What about the Rs 15 lakh in every bank account that they talked about? What about women's safety?" she said at the rally in Ahmedabad, dressed in a white and blue sari.
Giant cutouts of her grandmother Indira Gandhi at the venue in Gandhinagar reminded many in the crowds of her striking resemblance to the former prime minister.
"Those who talk about fitrat (nature), the fitrat of this country is to seek the truth, the fitrat of this nation is to blow away the winds of hate with love," said the 47-year-old, using a word that PM Modi had used quite recently.
At a rally, also in Ahmedabad, PM Modi had said: "Chun chun ke hisab lena mera fitrat hai. (It is my nature to avenge every wrongdoing)" The words were directed at Pakistan, days after India sent its fighter jets to bomb a terror camp in Balakot across the border. The air strikes were in response to a suicide attack in Kashmir's Pulwama on February 14, in which 40 soldiers were killed.
In the next two months, said Priyanka Gandhi, "they" will raise all kinds of issues. "Ask the right questions, this is your country. You have to guard the country," she said.
"This is nothing less than the independence movement. Our institutions are being attacked, hatred is being spread everywhere. There can be no bigger thing than guarding the country and moving ahead together."
Priyanka Gandhi's first-ever political rally outside the Gandhi family constituencies in Uttar Pradesh followed her debut in the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting earlier today. After years of campaigning in her brother Rahul Gandhi's Amethi and mother Sonia Gandhi's Raebareli in UP, this was her first election outing.
"This nation is based on love and brotherhood. It is sad at what is happening in the country these days. There is no bigger patriotism than awareness. Your awareness is a weapon; your vote is a weapon. It is a weapon that will not hurt or harm anyone. It is a weapon that will strengthen you," she said.
Priyanka Gandhi was the star speaker at the rally; the moment she stopped, many started leaving the rally. Even before her brother, Congress president Rahul Gandhi even took the mic.