Lucknow: With the BJP taking to the streets with a team of women leaders, at least three of whom joined the saffron party in recent times, the Congress on Monday termed it “Priyanka effect” and a “face-saving exercise” for the government.
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur, along with a team of women leaders, including the latest entrants- Aparna Yadav, Aditi Singh and Priyanka Maurya- was on the campaign trail in the heart of the state capital on Sunday.
“The ‘Ladki Hoon Lad Sakti Hoon’ slogan given by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and the manner in which she has been fighting for their cause has forced other political parties to realize that politics cannot be done without women. What we saw on the roads of Lucknow yesterday (Sunday) can clearly be termed Priyanka effect,” Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ajay Kumar Lallu told PTI in an interview.
“After announcing 40 per cent tickets to women, Priyanka had stated that no party can ignore half the population. This is coming true and we find that the BJP leaders are marching on the streets projecting a women-friendly face,” Lallu said.
“Even then, they had to resort to women leaders who crossed over to the BJP only in the last few days,” Lallu said.
Holding placards that gave out messages on women’s safety, the BJP’s new women leaders were seen on the roads of Lucknow on Sunday.
Most conspicuous in the team was the presence of Aparna Yadav, the younger daughter-in-law of Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and Congress’ rebel lawmaker from Rae Bareli Aditi Singh, who had formally joined the BJP last week.
Priyanka Maurya, who until a few days ago, featured on the posters of the Congress’ ‘Ladki Hoon Lad Sakti Hoon’ (I am a woman and I can fight) campaign and had shifted her loyalties, also figured in the Sunday rally.
Lallu said that had the BJP done some concrete work to uplift women in the state, it would not have been projecting women who earned a name for themselves while being in other parties.
On being asked whether Supriya Aron, former Bareilly mayor and Priyanka Maurya, the party’s erstwhile poster girl, parting ways Congress will impact the Congress, Lallu said it will not affect Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s campaign in any way.
“We have promised 40 per cent tickets to women and are doing it.
We are keeping our commitment and implementing it fully,” Lallu said.
He said those who are ready to “struggle” will remain with the party.
On Priyanka Maurya’s rift with the Congress, Lallu said there will always be 10 claimants for a ticket and it can be given to only one.
According to the Election Commission, the number of voters in Uttar Pradesh has increased from 14.71 crore to 15.02 crore of whom 8.04 crore are men (8,04,52,736) and over 6.98 crore women (6,98,22,416).
The Congress on Monday released its list of 30 star campaigners for the first-phase assembly election in Utar Pradesh, naming party president Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, former party chief Rahul Gandhi, new entrant Kanhaiya Kumar and some of the G-23 leaders.
Former Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and former Rajya Sabha member Raj Babbar are among the G-23 leaders named as star campaigners.
The group of 23 Congress leaders had earlier raised questions on the functioning of the party and sought an organisational overhaul.
Former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot, who had revolted against its own government in the state led by Ashok Gehlot, also figures among the 30 star campaigners.
AICC general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel are also among the star campaigners.
The list includes state party chief Ajay Kumar Lallu, Congress Legislature Party leader in the assembly Aradhana Misra ‘Mona’, former union ministers Salman Khurshid and RPN Singh, and former Rajya Sabha members Pramod Tiwari and P L Punia.
Party leaders Deepinder Singh Hooda, Supriya Shrinate, Imran Pratapgarhi and Kanhaiya Kumar are also among the 30 star campaigners of the Congress.
In the first of the seven phases, polling will be held in 58 assembly constituencies spread over 11 districts on February 10.
The districts which are going to poll in the first phase are Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, Meerut, Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Hapur, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Mathura and Agra.
The final-phase polling will be on March 7 and the results will be declared on March 10.
The Congress on Monday accused ruling BJP leaders of violating the poll code ahead of the UP Assembly elections and asked if the Election Commission is under pressure.
Naseemuddin Siddiqui, chief of the UP Congress media cell, claimed while his party’s event in Bahraich was not allowed allegedly due to poll code violation, Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s door-to-door campaign in Kairana took place despite the presence of a large number of people.
“The administration appears to be under pressure but is the (Election) Commission also under pressure,” he asked while talking to reporters here.
Referring to a programme organised by the Congress in Bahraich on Sunday to pay respects to freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose, Siddiqui said, “We had a programme in a closed hall and even before it could start, the administration reached there and stopped it, saying permission has not been taken.”
“Is paying homage or garlanding the statue of a great leader violation of model code,” Siddiqui asked.
“There were only 90 people in the programme, which was not even held and I have been told that a complaint has been given by police in this regard,” Siddiqui said, questioning how large number number of people are being allowed in programmes organised by the BJP.
“We will complain to the Election Commission about it,” he said.
Referring to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s programme in Shamli on Saturday, he said the leader was on a door-to-door campaign in Kairana with thousands of people present around him.
The Congress leader also rejected opinion polls.
When asked about the party denying ticket to Angad Singh in Punjab after his wife and UP MLA Aditi Singh made remarks against Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Siddiqui asked not to drag the party or the Congress leader into “household matters”.
Aditi Singh had recently joined the BJP.
To another question on some women in the party complaining that they have not been fielded in the coming polls, Siddiqui said ticket allotment is not the only means to take women forward.