The curious absence of Congress 'star campaigner' Priyanka Gandhi from the election campaign in Uttar Pradesh until yesterday had surprised many but not Smriti Irani.
The curious absence of Congress ‘star campaigner’ Priyanka Gandhi from the election campaign in Uttar Pradesh until yesterday had surprised many but not Smriti Irani. The BJP leader took the opportunity to claim that Priyanka was not campaigning as she cannot face questions from the people.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Irani had said she was working for people of Amethi despite losing to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in 2014. But, Priyanka has avoided campaign in the district because of the “unfulfilled” promises, she said. “Priyanka wants to avoid people’s questions,” PTI quoted the Union minister of textiles as saying. The Congress had responded to Irani’s swipe by saying that Priyanka was overlooking the campaign of the party. Interestingly, it seems Irani’s attack on Priyanka forced the Congress think tank to urge Priyanka to appear on the poll scene. She is now expected to attend her first election rally in Uttar Pradesh this year today along with brother Rahul in Rae Bareli, which is the family pocket borough of the Gandhis.
However, it has not yet been confirmed if Priyanka would speak during the two rallies in Rae Bareli town and Maharajganj she is expected to attend today. If she doesn’t address, Irani would find another opportunity to launch a new attack. Interestingly, not just Priyanka, but Congress president Sonia Gandhi has also stayed away from the campaign. Though Congress has not given any explanation on that, it is possible that Sonia has kept herself away from the campaign due to health reasons.
All eyes today will be on Priyanka’s speech if she chooses too. Meanwhile, Union Minister Smriti Irani questioning the absence of Congress ‘star campaigner’ Priyanka Gandhi from the election campaign in Uttar Pradesh brought back memories of Smriti Vs Priyanka battle that played out in the heat of 2014 General Elections.
In April 2014, Priyanka had asked people in Amethi not to vote for an “outsider” Smriti Irani, who had dared to challenge Rahul Gandi on his home turf. Irani had hit back questioning the number of time Rahul had visited Amethi in 10 years. While Rahul eventually beat Irani with a huge margin, the famed duel between the two women leaders has survived until now. Let us see how Smriti Vs Priyanka rolls out today.
Assembly constituencies in Amethi and Rae Bareli go to polls in the 4th and 5th phase of polling in the state on February 23 and 27. Results will be announced on March 11.
(With inputs from agencies)