By Anand Singh
Prayagraj, March 18 (IANS) Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi on Monday launched her three-day Prayagraj-Varanasi boat ride on the Ganga river as part of the Lok Sabha election campaign, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being a friend of industrialists.
Taunting Modi for his ‘main bhi chaukidaar’ (I am also a watchman) claim, Gandhi said: “A watchman is only meant for the rich and not for farmers.”
Modi, she told people crowding the banks of the Ganga, “pushes money into the pockets of industrialists”.
“Modi only favours industrialists. So think before voting, use your vote judiciously, in a way that your vote changes things in the country,” she said.
As the specially-prepared motor boat sailed slowly from here, Gandhi, 47, waved to people crowding the banks of the holy Hindu river and with a hand-held microphone asked them loudly about their welfare.
Packing the vessel were her supporters.
Addressing a gathering near Dumduma ghat, she said: “When we raise any issue, we are suppressed and lathi-charged. Yesterday a woman came… They came with hope.”
But whenever people protest, they end up facing even sedition charges, she said.
The Congress leader said people need to understand that this country belongs to everyone.
“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.”
Answering questions on the agrarian crisis, she said: “We are not here to make false promises. We do what we promise, like we waived off loan of farmers in all the states where we formed governments recently.”
Responding to BSP leader Mayawati’s outburst over seat-sharing with the Congress, Gandhi said: “There is no need to be angry. The common aim is to defeat the BJP.”
After leaving from Dumduma, Gandhi reached Sirsa and Lakshagrih ghats.
However, her vessel got stuck in shallow water and was pulled out by party supporters.
Earlier, Gandhi left Swaraj Bhawan, her family’s ancestral home, in the morning and reached the Bade Hanuman Mandir, popular as ‘Lete huye Hanuman Mandir’, near Prayagraj Sangam.
She prayed at the temple and to the river Ganga. She then embarked on her much anticipated boat ride from the Manaiya Ghat.
Asked about her river ride, Gandhi replied: “Ganga maiya udaar hai (Mother Ganga is magnanimous.)”
She was welcomed by party supporters who showered flowers on her.
After arriving at Manaiya ghat, Gandhi broke her security protocol and shook hands with supporters who had arrived from different parts of Uttar Pradesh.
The younger sibling of Congress President Rahul Gandhi interacted with 20-25 girl students as part of her campaign “Sanchi baat” soon after her boat left Manaiya ghat. They were with her on the boat specially prepared for the campaign.
The river ride will take her to Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
(Anand Singh can be contacted [email protected])