Women expose BJP’s ‘cash for votes’ ploy in Amethi

A woman Sarpanch approaches Priyanka Gandhi Vadra with ₹75,000 allegedly paid to Gram Pradhans by the BJP. Men present laugh and say they would take money from the BJP and vote for the Congress

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra greets supporters during election campaign for Lok Sabha polls, in Raebareli (PTI)
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra greets supporters during election campaign for Lok Sabha polls, in Raebareli (PTI)

Nachiketa Desai

A woman village sarpanch of Amethi created a flutter in Amethi when she presented to Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi a bundle of currency notes worth ₹75,000. The amount, she claimed, was given to three gram pradhans (village heads) by BJP workers ostensibly to mobilise votes in her favour.

Lashing out at this ‘cash for votes’ strategy of the TV actress-turned-politician at her street-corner election meeting, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra asked villagers, “Will you sell your votes to the BJP which insults you like this?”

“Never, never (kabhi nahi, kabhi nahi)”, shouted hundreds of villagers, men and women, who had thronged her meeting at Salon, a block in Amethi.

Priyanka has been addressing election meetings hopping from one village to another, unmindful of the scorching sun with the temperature hitting 45 degrees Celsius.

“I have been visiting Amethi since I was a 12-year-old girl, with my father Rajiv and mother Sonia and brother Rahul who have represented you in the Lok Sabha,” said Priyanka who engages her audience in conversation with her, rather than giving them a lecture.

“You should not be scared of your MP. You criticise the MP and must question him if he does not address your problems,” she says in her interaction with the villagers. “You know how my father turned the barren land of Amethi into a green fertile land after you elected him to the Lok Sabha,” she says.

“Rahul had initiated several development projects in Amethi. But the BJP governments at the centre and in state have blocked them. The Congress will start them if you send Rahul to the Lok Sabha,” says Priyanka.

A man in his 50s interrupts her to point out that the work on an important road link had stopped and wanted her to make a promise that the road would be completed. “I am bound by the model code of conduct. So, I can’t make such a promise right away. But, I will keep this in mind,” she said.

A physically challenged person named Ashiq Ali raises his walking stick to draw her attention to him. “Didi, no one listens to me. My application seeking dole for a cripple has been long pending with the district administration,” he complains. Priyanka tells a Congress functionary accompanying her to take down details from him.

A TV journalist tries to wrangle an impromptu interview with her while she is boarding her vehicle. “What has your family done for the development of Amethi?” he asks. Before she could reply, Congress workers start a chant of “Rahul Gandhi Zindabad”.

“These slogans have answered your question,” says Priyanka with a broad smile.

Several elderly women try to touch her feet but she shrinks back saying, "No, no, please don't touch my feet."

As she drives from one village to another, people throng both sides of the road to have a glimpse of her. She greets them with folded hands. She stops her cavalcade when she sees small children gathered on roadside. She gets down and pats some of the children.

The children giggle. Priyanka Gandhi drives away.

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Published: 02 May 2019, 1:05 PM