Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Sunday accused the government of trying to “save” Union minister Ajay Kumar Mishra’s son in the Lakhimpur violence case, and alleged nobody is safe in the country except BJP leaders and their “billionaire friends”.
Addressing the ”Kisan Nyay Rally” in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency of Varanasi, she attacked him saying he has time to travel across the country and the world but not to talk to farmers protesting just 10 kms from his residence.
She was addressing the rally in the holy town just days after eight people, including four farmers, were killed in violence during a farmers’ protest in Lakhimpur Kheri.
Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish has been arrested in connection with the case.
The Congress general secretary, who was accompanied Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, also visited Kashi Vishwanath and Kushmanda temples.
Ms Gandhi said the Prime Minister recently visited Lucknow for an exhibition but did not go to Lakhimpur Kheri just two hours away to wipe the tears of the farmers who helped the country earn its freedom.
She said Mahatma Gandhi fought for the freedom of the country so that the poor and labourers could get justice, but people have given up hope for justice under this government.
“In this country, the son of MoS for home crushed farmers under his car but the government was trying to save him,” the Congress leader alleged.
“Nowhere in the world would the police invite a murder accused for interrogation,” she said, accusing the police of being soft on the minister’s son. “People should compel those in power to give justice.”
“Congress workers do not fear anyone even if you put them in jails or beat them up. We will continue to fight till the Union MoS (Ajay Mishra) resigns. Our party has fought for the country’s Independence. No one can silence us,” she said.
She also said the families of aggrieved people — be it in Sonbhadra (where 10 tribal farmers were killed in 2019 allegedly over a land dispute), Hathras (where a Dalit girl was allegedly raped and killed last year) or even Lakhimpur Kheri — said they do not want compensation but justice, “of which they have no hope”.
“Time has come,” she said, “and I am not talking about the elections, I am talking about the country. The country is not a fiefdom of BJP office-bearers, their ministers” or the Prime Minister’s.
“This country is yours. If you do not become aware, and rather remain entangled in their politics, you will be able to save neither yourself nor the country.”
On the farmers’ protest, she said, “Farmers have been protesting against farm laws for the past 10 months and 600 of them have lost their lives. They are protesting because their farms, incomes and produce will go to the billionaire friends of Modiji through the provisions of these (central) laws.”
“The billionaire friends of Modiji purchased apples last year at Rs 88 per kg in Himachal Pradesh and this year, it was purchased (by them) at Rs 72 per kg. Everybody is compelled to sell apples at lower prices. This situation will prevail in the country when the laws are implemented,” she claimed.
The PM, who calls himself a “Gangaputra” — son of the Ganga –has “insulted” crores of “Gangaputras by hatching a conspiracy to give their crops and income to his billionaire friends,” Gandhi alleged.
People belonging to any caste and religion are not safe, the Congress leader alleged. “In this country, the prime minister, his council of ministers, people from his party and their billionaire friends are safe. Understand this properly. The country is getting destroyed.”
Priyanka Gandhi claimed farmers are not getting electricity, but are being presented with bills even as the cost of urea and fertilisers have gone up. There is GST on agriculture equipment, and the prices of petrol, diesel and LPG have skyrocketed, the coal stock is ending, she said.
“Recently, I visited a Valmiki colony in Lucknow. Yogiji had used indecent language for them. The people of Valmiki colony told me their youths are not getting jobs despite having MA and ITI degrees. The public is feeling harassed and angry, and rightly so,” she said.
She said the government gave no relief to people after the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced closure of shops and businesses. “You have been only harassed either through the GST or the demonetisation.”
“The railways, airports and PSUs have been handed over to billionaire friends. Last year, the Prime Minister had bought two aircraft for himself, and one aircraft’s cost was of Rs 8,000 crore. And Air India was sold to his billionaire friends at Rs 18,000 crore,” she said.
While Priyanka Gandhi visited the Kashi Vishwanath and Kushmanda temples before the rally, it started with the recitation of mantras, Gurbani and verses from the Quran.
As she reached the rally venue, Congress leaders welcomed her with the slogan of ”Har Har Mahadev”. And she recited “Sanskrit shlokas” and chanted “Jai Mata Di” at the beginning of her speech.
State Congress spokesperson Ashok Singh said with Sunday’s event, the party has launched itself aggressively for the upcoming 2022 UP Assembly elections.
“The Congress under the leadership of Priyankaji will comprehensively defeat the demon power, which has unleashed itself in various parts of the state,” Mr Singh said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)