NEW DELHI: BJP leader and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley alleged that Congress general secretary in charge for Eastern Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi Vadra “quietly chickened out” from contesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi.
“She (Priyanka Gandhi) rejoiced in giving daily bytes to the media that she was ready to take on the Prime Minister. Her brother (Rahul Gandhi) claimed that the party was building up the suspense for an eventual thriller. Obviously, she quietly chickened out of the contest,” said Jaitley in a blog post.
The Union Minister’s comments came hours after Congress announced Ajay Rai as its candidate from Varanasi.
“I am deeply disappointed with the Congress Party’s decision of not fielding Priyanka Gandhi from Varanasi. The last two months that she has been in the public life has driven home the point – India has changed, dynasties don’t matter,” he said.
“The myths of Priyanka Gandhi stand eroded. India’s conventional wisdom has been ‘बंद मुट्ठी लाख की, खुल गयी तो ख़ाक की’. The myth of ‘Priyanka will make a difference’ was worth a lakh,” Jaitley added.
The Union Minister said that he was sad at India being denied the opportunity to establish that it does not accept inexperienced dynasts with no other credentials.
“There is one additional point that this episode established. It is only juvenile politics, where a family lives under an illusion that people will accept it irrespective of credentials, which persuades you to build a climax of Priyanka taking on the Prime Minister and then suffer the wrath of the anti-climax,” the Finance Minister said.
Meanwhile, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju said, “It is not an issue for us whom Congress is fielding. The issue is from wherever Modiji is contesting, people of that constituency are blessed.”
Modi is contesting from Varanasi. He first won from here in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Priyanka had earlier said if Congress president Rahul Gandhi wishes, she would contest from Varanasi.
Congress party, however, defended its decision to field Rai instead of Priyanka.
“Priyanka had said that she will contest from whichever seat the party asks her to. Why should Congress limit her capabilities, her leadership, and charismatic personality to just one seat? Maybe BJP wants this because they know that wherever she is campaigning, BJP will lose badly,” Congress leader Ragini Nayak said.
“There is a different way she connects with people. The kind of simplicity she has brought in politics is impossible for some other to replicate. So, we will not limit Priyanka. Congress decides considering the political equations. It is the job of media to speculate,” Ragini added.
Modi will file his nomination from Varanasi on Friday.