Why are we discussing Pakistan when polls are in India: Priyanka Gandhi slams BJP amid Aiyar row

Why is Pakistan being discussed when elections are taking place in India and the unemployment rate here is at a 45-year high, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra asked on Friday as she hit back at the BJP on the row over Mani Shankar Aiyar's remarks.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

Amethi (UP) | Why is Pakistan being discussed when elections are taking place in India and the unemployment rate here is at a 45-year high, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra asked on Friday as she hit back at the BJP on the row over Mani Shankar Aiyar's remarks.

She also asked the ruling party to fight the polls on real issues.

In an exclusive interview with PTI, Priyanka Gandhi accused the BJP of raising the Hindu-Muslim rhetoric to win the elections and asserted that the people don't want the polls to be contested on the basis of religion and caste.

"People are saying you've (the BJP) won two elections on religion and now move forward from that," the Congress general secretary said.

Questioned on the row over Congress leader Aiyar's remarks, Priyanka Gandhi asked why the issue is being discussed now when the statement is an old one.

"I ask when was the statement made? … If it is an old statement, then why are we discussing it today? Secondly, I want to ask, where are elections taking place, in India or in Pakistan? They are taking place in India. So why are we discussing Pakistan?" she told PTI during her campaign trail in Amethi for the party's candidate Kishori Lal Sharma.

Priyanka Gandhi also questioned why discussion is not taking place on rising unemployment in India, which is the highest in the last 45 years, and on the high inflation due to which "people go to the market and return without buying half the things they wanted to".

"If they (people) have to get treatment done, they feel worried. Why is this not being talked about? Farmers are suffering, unable to earn, everything has become expensive, from diesel to farming materials. Why is this not being discussed? Why are labourers being exploited and do not get enough wages?," she asked.

Aiyar's remarks on Pakistan sparked a row on Friday, with his party quick to dissociate itself from the comments while the BJP latched on to those, accusing the grand old party of being an apologist for Pakistan and the terrorism emanating from its soil.

Aiyar said the video was old and dredged up now as the BJP's election campaign is faltering.

In comments that have gone viral on social media, Aiyar is heard saying that India should give respect to Pakistan as it is a sovereign nation and engage with it as it also possesses an atom bomb.

Asked about the Congress' bid to keep the focus on people's issues, Priyanka Gandhi accused the BJP of raising the Hindu-Muslim rhetoric to divert attention from the real issues and its performance.

"I feel the people are fed up and have understood that in every election they raise Hindu-Muslim, make it (the narrative) religion-based, sometimes they ask to take oath in the name of God that you will vote for the BJP … what nonsense is this," the Congress general secretary said.

She asked the BJP to seek votes on performance.

Priyanka Gandhi also asked how many elections the BJP wants to win on its Hindu-Muslim rhetoric.

"So this is the demand of the people in this election, they are saying that they don't want to fight the elections on the basis of religion and caste. We want to fight the elections on price rise, unemployment, problems of farmers and real issues, the problems we face in our daily lives," she said.

Where are these issues being heeded, people are asking, she said.

Priyanka Gandhi will remain in Rae Bareli and Amethi till the polls are held in the two seats on May 20. While Rahul Gandhi is contesting against the BJP's Dinesh Pratap Singh from Rae Bareli, Gandhi family aide Sharma is taking on the BJP's Smriti Irani in Amethi.

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