Priyanka Gandhi will be a “force multiplier” for Congress in Rahul Gandhi’s “forceful” campaign in Uttar Pradesh and people will reject any attempt by BJP to use army’s surgical strikes across the LoC for political gains, Congress’ Chief Ministerial candidate Sheila Dikshit has said.
The Congress veteran, who has been on a whirlwind tour of Uttar Pradesh where assembly polls are scheduled for early next year, also attacked the BJP for “trying to polarise” Uttar Pradesh on communal lines by raking up the contentious issue of Uniform Civil Code.
78-year-old Dikshit said Rahul, the Congress vice president, has managed to enthuse party workers to a great extent through his Kisan Yatra and, if Priyanka decides to participate actively, it will work wonders for the party which is out of power in the politically crucial state for as many as 27 years.
Talking about Congress’ preparations, she said the party was planning to have region-specific manifestos for the polls as different regions have different problems, adding there were signs of “clear revival” of the party across the state.
Claiming that no party will get an absolute majority in the polls, Dikshit said Congress will play a key role in formation of the next government and hinted that the party may not be averse to forging a post-poll alliance with either BSP or Samajwadi Party.
“We will take a call depending on the situation after the polls. But I am very confident that Congress will play a decisive role in formation of the next government,” she said.
The three-time Delhi Chief Minister accused the BJP of “conspiring” to “polarise” the state on communal lines, asserting Congress will forcefully “expose such evil designs”.
She also slammed BJP for planning to highlight the surgical strike during the campaign, saying never ever in India’s history the valour of armed forces was used for political gains.
“Exploiting political gains out of (a) sensitive issue is very, very unfortunate. It reflects deterioration of our democratic culture. Army was never used for politics. This is reprehensible,” she told PTI.
Dikshit claimed Rahul’s Kisan Yatra was a “huge success” and if Priyanka hits the campaign trail, it will strengthen the party’s position.
“People are yearning for Congress’ comeback to power. Every section of the society there is fed up with successive governments. People of UP now want change,” said Dikshit, adding Congress was trying to reach out to all communities including Dalits and Muslims. She said Dalits and Muslims were feeling “insecure” under the Modi government at the Centre and termed the situation as alarming.
Dikshit was made Congress’ Chief Ministerial candidate considering her Brahmin background as the party felt it will help it win back support of the community, which has a sizeable vote base in UP.
Born into a Punjabi Khatri family, Dikshit is the daughter-in-law of Congress heavyweight from UP late Uma Shankar Dikshit, a tall Brahmin leader who had served as a Union minister and governor for a long time.
The Brahmin community, a traditional vote bank of Congress, had shifted allegiance to BJP in the aftermath of the Mandir-Mandal politics.
A large chunk of Brahmin votes had also gone to Mayawati’s BSP in the past when she gave tickets to many candidates belonging to the community.
The community’s support determines the poll outcome in several seats in central and eastern UP.