LUCKNOW: Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday responded to skepticism from Gathbandhan leaders over her claim to have fielded weak candidates to eat into BJP’s vote share in the Lok Sabha poll in Uttar Pradesh.
Her statement has led to Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Mayawati accusing the Congress of splitting anti-BJP votes by fielding its own candidates in Uttar Pradesh.
Priyanka Gandhi said that she did not say Congress had fielded weak candidates. She added: "I've said very clearly Congress is fighting this election on its own strength. We have chosen candidates that are either fighting very strongly or cutting BJP votes."
"I would rather die than help the BJP in any way," she clarified while campaigning in her mother’s bastion in Rae Bareli.
Meanwhile, the Congress leader also addressed a meeting of Samajwadi Party workers in Unchahar segment of Rae Bareli parliamentary constituency on Thursday.
"I can never have anything to do with that destructive ideology, never, not in my life. Every Congress candidate in Uttar Pradesh will cut into the votes of the BJP and no one else. I am very clear about this," said Priyanka Gandhi, who is the Congress's campaign in-charge for 41 seats in the eastern region of Uttar Pradesh.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Congress General Secy for UP (East) in Raebareli: Ideology of Congress & BJP is poles apart. We'll always fight them, they are our main adversary in politics. We've made sure not to benefit BJP in any way. We're fighting strongly, our candidates are strong. pic.twitter.com/JXlvQWyXx8— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) May 2, 2019
Priyanka, on Wednesday, had hinted about a tacit Congress-Gathbandhan understanding by claiming that she had fielded her party candidates after thorough research to ensure that by not winning, they should cut into the BJP vote bank and not the SP-BSP-RLD's alliance. “Congress will win on the seats where our candidates are strong. Where our candidates are slightly lightweight, they will cut into BJP’s vote share,” she had told media persons.
Reacting to her statement, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said he didn’t believe that the Congress had fielded weak candidates on any seat. “No party does it. People are not with them. So they are trying to find an excuse,” Akhilesh said.
The SP chief claimed that Congress wanted to benefit the BJP. “BJP has learnt to misuse the ED, CBI and other agencies against leaders in opposition from the Congress itself," he asserted.
BSP chief Mayawati reaction was sharper claiming the BJP and the Congress were two sides of the same coin. She conveyed her voters not to waste their vote by supporting Congress. “Don't waste your vote on the Congress,” she said.
Mayawati also sought to clarify SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav's statement on the last day of Parliament, asking people not to misconstrue it. He had expressed his wish to see Narendra Modi return to power.
She scoffed at Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Thursday by saying: “Is Rahul Gandhi immature? Why did he hug Prime Minister (Narendra Modi)?."
Congress, which has fielded candidates on 69 of 80 seats in UP, wanted to be a part of mahagathbandhan but was elbowed out of it, owing to differences with regional parties over the number of seats.
(With inputs from ANI)