"Nationalism means solving the problems of the people of the country. The greatest patriotism of any politician, of any government, would be to be able to hear the people when they speak, would be to be democratic, to be able to strengthen the institutions that strengthen the public voice, not weaken it," she said.
True nationalism is love for the people and the country which means respect and the BJP’s narrative is devoid of it, says Congress general secretary Priyanka Vadra Gandhi, stepping up her attack on the saffron party for failing to address real issues. In an exclusive interview to PTI, Priyanka Gandhi also said there is growing “public anger and pain” for which the people of India will give a message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 23 when the votes for the Lok Sabha polls will be counted. In an attack on Modi, she said if the voice of the people is drowned by the voice of one leader, there are going to be consequences.
“Nationalism means solving the problems of the people of the country. The greatest patriotism of any politician, of any government, would be to be able to hear the people when they speak, would be to be democratic, to be able to strengthen the institutions that strengthen the public voice, not weaken it,” she said.
“I believe true nationalism is love of the people and love for the country, which means respect and I do not see respect for the people in anything they are doing,” Priyanka Gandhi added. The BJP has been building its campaign narrative around the issue of nationalism and national security and the party has been referring to the Balakot air strikes and the Modi government’s policy in tackling terror. Priyanka Gandhi, who has been vigorously campaigning in Rae Bareli and Amethi for her mother Sonia Gandhi and brother Rahul Gandhi, respectively, said the Modi government’s policies have led to large scale public anger and pain among people.
“I think the people will give the message to him (PM) because I think wherever I go, I see a lot of public anger, public pain, which has not been addressed,” the Congress general secretary in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh said. “Any leader whether it is him (Modi) or anyone else, if public pain is not addressed, if the voice of the people is drowned by the voice of one leader or by the kind of ideology they have, they will have to suffer the consequences. So I think the people are very clear,” she said.
She said the ongoing Lok Sabha elections are very crucial as the Congress is fighting to protect the idea of India and the contest is between ideologies. “It is an election in which we are fighting for the India that we all love, for democracy, and for all those values of democracy that we hold dear because institutions are being destroyed by this government,” she said. Asked whether she is dejected about not contesting the Lok Sabha polls from Varanasi against Modi, Priyanka Gandhi said she “feared no one” and went by the direction of the party.
She said it is important for her to strengthen the party in Uttar Pradesh as she is campaigning not for herself but for the Congress candidates. Asked what the ongoing elections meant for her personally, considering she and her family have been targeted by the BJP, the Congress leader said, “This is part of BJP’s politics.”
“They have targeted every person who has spoken against them whether it is a school teacher in Uttar Pradesh or an opposition leader in New Delhi. This is the methodology of their politics and it is the methodology of an undemocratic mindset,” she alleged. Asked whether taking the plunge into party politics earlier this year was difficult, she replied with a smile, “Not all all.”
Priyanka Gandhi was named AICC general secretary this January. She said she found BJP’s flagship Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nodhi “offensive and insulting” as it was announced on election eve. “Kisan Samman Yojna is offensive because for the last five years you (the BJP) have done nothing for the farmers. You have not only done nothing for them, you have pushed them into debt,” she said.
“While you (Modi government) have been helping all the big businessmen and waiving their loans, you have pushed the farmers into debt. You have pushed farmers into a situation where 12,000 people are committing suicide for nothing..for just Rs 10,000, or for Rs 2,000 and you have done nothing to help them.
“And now because the election is coming you think you can fool them by sending Rs 2,000 in their bank accounts. I think it is offensive. It is insulting,” Priyanka Gandhi said.