A day after Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra signaled towards her being the chief ministerial face of the party for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, she rolled back her statement and said her comment was one out of “irritation”. When asked about who the Congress is pitching as its CM face, Gandhi had on Friday responded saying, “Do you see any other face from the Congress party.”
On Saturday, Gandhi said, “There is no hesitation over a CM face. I am not saying that I am the CM face (of Congress in the Uttar Pradesh elections). I said that (you can see my face everywhere) out of irritation because you all were asking the same question again and again.”
Training her guns at UP CM Yogi Adityanath, she questioned the BJP saying, “The truth is that in this country, including UP, there are few friends of the government and big businesses who are benefitting, everybody else is in great pain. Why are we not talking about the percentage of unemployed people in UP? Why are we not talking about the budget that the government is spending on education? Why are we addressing the questions that have nothing to do with the progress of UP?
The Gandhi siblings released a youth manifesto’ for Uttar Pradesh ahead of assembly elections. She had also evaded queries on whether she would contest the assembly polls beginning next month. She had said the party would be open to a post-poll alliance if the need arose.
“You are seeing my face everywhere,” the Congress leader added while addressing a joint press conference with her brother and former party president Rahul Gandhi to release the ‘Bharti Vidhan’ (recruitment document) manifesto that promises a new vision for youth in the state and the creation of 20 lakh jobs, including eight lakh for women. To a question on whether she would herself contest the assembly polls, Priyanka Gandhi said, “We have not yet decided.” She said it would be known once that is decided.
So far, the Congress has been calling for collective leadership in the poll-bound state, where the BJP will contest with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at the forefront, while former CM Akhilesh Yadav will spearhead Samajwadi Party’s campaign.
The Congress under Priyanka Gandhi’s leadership is trying to put up a strong fight in Uttar Pradesh by reaching out to the women and youth, who form a significant part the state’s population.
The Congress on Friday launched ‘Bharti Vidhan’, the party’s youth manifesto for Uttar Pradesh, stating that the vision document focusses on providing employment to the youth of the state.
The manifesto, which promises 20 lakh jobs, including 9 lakh jobs for women, was released by Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh said the party would certainly look at supporting other parties for government formation and was open to backing them if the situation were to arise after the elections. She, however, said the Congress would keep implementing its vision for youth, especially women, as a priority while extending any such support for government formation in UP. “We would be open to considering that. If such a situation arises, then we would certainly want our agenda for the youth and women to be fulfilled if we were going to be part of any such dispensation,” she said to a question on whether the Congress would support other parties in government formation.
The party has resolved to fill the “massive backlog” of jobs in the public sector and promised 20 lakh jobs, including eight lakh for women, in their manifesto for the youth. The campaign in Uttar Pradesh is very negative and is centred around caste and religion, Priyanka Gandhi said, adding that the Congress is moving away from this to present a development oriented roadmap. Addressing the gathering, Rahul Gandhi stressed that the country needs a new vision and their document is “not hollow words” but drafted after consulting youth whose views are reflected in it.
“There are polls in UP and the youth there need a new vision and only the Congress party can give that vision to the state,” the former Congress chief said. “We don’t spread hatred, we work to unite people and we want to build a new Uttar Pradesh driven by the strength and confidence of youth in the state,” he said. According to Rahul Gandhi, the Congress party wants to go beyond mere rhetoric and provide a strategy on how to provide jobs to the youth of Uttar Pradesh.
She said the biggest problem in the state is recruitment and the youth are disappointed. The party is going to the polls with the focus on youth and women and has announced that it will reserve 40 per cent of tickets for women in Uttar Pradesh. Polling for the 403-member Uttar Pradesh Assembly is scheduled to be held in seven phases from February 10 to March 7. The votes will be counted on March 10.
(With inputs from agencies)