'From Ghaziabad to Ghazipur, BJP will be defeated': Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav for I.N.D.I.A.

The Congress and Samajwadi Party leaders reiterated in their joint press conference that the Opposition alliance would limit the BJP to 150 seats or less

In a joint press conference in Ghaziabad, Rahul Gandhi of the Indian National Congress and Samajwadi Party leader represented the I.N.D.I.A. bloc together (photo: Vipin/National Herald)
In a joint press conference in Ghaziabad, Rahul Gandhi of the Indian National Congress and Samajwadi Party leader represented the I.N.D.I.A. bloc together (photo: Vipin/National Herald)

NH Political Bureau

The backdrop has the Congress and the Samajwadi Party flags—but at the corners and without explicit mention of the party names. The faces of Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra sit large over the tricolour band—but portraits of Babasaheb Ambedkar and A.P.J. Abul Kalam Azad sit along the top right.

In pride of place at the centre is the legend announcing this as the INDIA bloc's united message to the media ('INDIA Gathbandhan ki Samyukt Press Varta').

Two days before the commencement of voting for the first phase of the Lok Sabha polls, Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav sat at the centre of the dais to address a joint press conference in Ghaziabad, attacking the BJP-led NDA for failing India. Flanking them were Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh, the party's national spokesperson Supriya Shrinate, senior leader Avinash Pandey and Shahid Siddiqui.

While Gandhi attacked the Narendra Modi government for the electoral bond scam and called the Prime Minister "a champion of corruption", SP chief Yadav did a weather forecast of Indian politics and predicted a "western disturbance" would disturb the BJP’s game plan all across India.

"The electoral bonds scheme is the biggest extortion scheme in the world. India's businessmen know it very well," Rahul Gandhi said.

Gandhi added:

No matter how much the Prime Minister clarifies, it will have no impact because the entire nation knows that the prime minister is the champion of corruption
Rahul Gandhi

Gandhi also claimed there was a strong undercurrent in favour of the Opposition alliance, the INDIA bloc, and that the BJP would be limited to 150 seats in the Lok Sabha elections beginning 19 April in Uttar Pradesh and across the nation. He said this was based on ground reports that led him to revise his estimate of a month ago, that the BJP would be restricted at 180 or so.

Reiterating his stance that "this election is an election of ideology", the former Congress president added, "On the one hand, RSS and BJP are trying to destroy the Constitution and the democratic system, and on the other hand, the INDIA bloc and Congress Party are trying to defend and protect the Constitution and democracy."

Addressing the media, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav declared that the BJP-led NDA would be defeated across Uttar Pradesh, from Ghaziabad to Ghazipur.

"PDA is going to defeat NDA," he said.

Those who came in 2014 will leave in 2024. The people of Uttar Pradesh not only give them a good welcome, this time they will also give him a grand farewell, complete with drums and trumpets... The INDIA alliance will wipe out BJP, from Ghaziabad to Ghazipur.
Akhilesh Yadav

"Today, farmers are upset, as all the promises of the BJP turned out to be fake," Yadav added.

In the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections in western UP, voters in eight constituencies — Saharanpur, Kairana, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Nagina, Moradabad, Rampur and Pilibhit — will go to the polls on 19 April. A total of 155 candidates have filed their nominations from these constituencies, the list being dominated by Muslim and Dalit leaders.

In the 2019 elections, the BJP secured a victory in three of these constituencies (Muzaffarnagar, Kairana and Pilibhit), while the SP claimed two (Moradabad and Rampur) and the BSP three (Saharanpur, Nagina and Bijnor). Notably, the Samajwadi Party had contested the 2019 election in alliance with the BSP.

When asked about the INDIA bloc's common vision for the nation, both Gandhi and Yadav spoke of guaranteeing an MSP for farmers, creating and filling government posts to address unemployment and direct cash transfer schemes for vulnerable and underserved populations.

On Modi's criticism of his remarks that the Congress would end poverty in no time, Gandhi said that no one had said that poverty would just "end" all at once, but that strong efforts towards that goal were certainly possible and would be carried out:

Poverty cannot be eradicated in one go, but it can be dealt a severe blow.
We are going to do revolutionary work, like a caste census, a support amount of Rs 1 lakh per year for poor women, apprenticeships for youth.
A major reason for poverty in the country is that Narendra Modi has given all the wealth of the country to a select few people.
Rahul Gandhi

The Congress has candidates up across 17 seats while the SP and some other INDIA allies are contesting the remaining 63 seats in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh. The state sends a total of 80 members to the Lok Sabha.

The seven-phase Lok Sabha polls begin on 19 April, stretches across all seven phases, with counting of votes to be taken up on 4 June.

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