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Priyanka Gandhi Plays with Snakes as She Interacts with Charmers in Rae Bareli

The video may land Priyanka Gandhi in trouble as earlier this year the Election Commission banned the use of animals for election campaigning.

Rakhi Bose | News18.com@theotherbose

Updated:May 2, 2019, 2:49 PM IST
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Priyanka Gandhi Plays with Snakes as She Interacts with Charmers in Rae Bareli
Priyanka Gandhi charming snakes in Rae Bareli | Image credit: ANI

Ever since Priyanka Gandhi Vadra formally joined the Congress as the AICC general Secretary for eastern Uttar Pradesh, social media has had a treasure trove of fun content.

Be it her boat rallies, her Twitter handle, her clothes, her nomination, or even the recent controversial video in which she can be seen smiling as children chant anti-Modi slogans, Gandhi is social media's favourite. And now, a new poll gimmick has again made her viral on the internet.

A video of Gandhi playing with snakes as she interacts with snake-charmers in Rae Bareli was released on social media by news agency ANI on Wednesday.

In the video, Gandhi, clad in bright yellow, can be seen casually holding a snake in hand while se strokes another inside a case, even as onlookers click photos and cheer. In fact, she goes on to tell her nervous supporters that the snakes were harmless and that they should not worry.

Rae Bareli is Sonia Gandhi's parliamentary constituency and daughter Priyanka has been traveling through the area since Wednesday. The interaction with the snake charmers took place on Thursday in Purwa village.

This is not the first time that members of the Gandhi family have been filmed around the creepy crawlies. An image former PM Jawaharlal Nehru enjoying a performance by a snake-charmer along with then US First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy is often shared on social media today.

Critics of Nehru claim that it was photos such as these that popularised the image of India as the proverbial 'land of snake charmers', a stereotype that if often offensive to Indians as it portrays India as a backward country that still hasn't modernised.

However, in 2016, a BBC documentary went on to capture the plight of the existing snake charmers as well as the communities that are involved in the profession. Since the 90s, capturing snakes for performative uses amounts to violation of the Willife Protection Act (1972). however, the ban has hit several communities that were dependent on snake-charming for their livelihoods.

With her latest interaction, is Priyanka Gandhi trying to include these communities in her poll outreach? Or the video be written off as just another poll stunt? Gandhi, who is already in hot waters after a video of her smiling around children abusing PM Modi went viral, could, in fact, land up in more trouble for the video.

The Election Commission's 'Manual on Model Code of Conduct' adviced political parties from resisting using animals or paying for them to be used in election campaigns. As per the Regulation of Road Shows During Elections, the use of animals in roadshows is banned. The point was also raised by animal rights group PETA earlier in April.

Rae Bareli is set to go to polls on May 6, a seat that was won by Sonia Gandhi in 2014. This year, she faces stiff competition from BJP's Dinesh Pratap Singh.

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