Wave of discontent against Modi government, people in mood for change… Exclusive interview of Priyanka Gandhi

Ananya Shroff
13 Min Read

New Delhi: Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi is seen campaigning across the country. She is believed to have played an important role in formulating the strategy of the Congress and implementing it on the ground. The party's manifesto was also discussed a lot. Before the last phase of Lok Sabha elections-2024, Priyanka Gandhi spoke to Narendra Nath on many issues including the party's plans and strategy:Question: You are one of the important star campaigners of Congress. What is your prediction about the election results?
The public is contesting the elections and the public is going to bring about the change.

Question: What difference did you feel in the issues and public mood in the 2019 and 2024 elections?
In this election, the public has started seeing the reality of the government and the media. The public does not trust what the media is saying. The government's 10 years of performance is in front of everyone. The public is seeing that TV and media are creating a different image of the Modi government, but the reality is that the youth is struggling with terrible unemployment. People are troubled by inflation. The middle class is being hit by taxes and increasing EMIs. This is the reason why the public is aware of their issues in these elections. BJP, which was in power for 10 years, neither listened to the people nor did anything on these issues. The public wanted to hear their issues in the election, but BJP talked about buffalo, mangalsutra, theft of tap water. Congress and INDIA talked about the issues of the public.

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Question: What kind of role do you see for yourself in Congress after June 4? A section believes that you play an effective role in creating the party's narrative and conveying the message to the people.
Whatever role the party decides for me, I will play it with full loyalty.

Question: How much impact did Bharat Jodo Yatra have on Rahul Gandhi and the entire Congress?
Rahul Gandhi's yatra was a big movement to connect with the people. It was an effort to go among the people, understand their problems and become their voice. Also, the message of love, unity and harmony was to be spread among them in the era of BJP's divisive politics. This yatra infused new energy in the party and Rahul Gandhi. Our focus became more focused on the fact that we have to keep raising people's issues, because people are suffering a lot. I think its biggest role is that this yatra did a very good job of highlighting the underlying feeling of discontent among the people. Narendra Modi's dictatorship had suppressed the voice of the people, now its echo is being heard across the country.

Question: BJP is trying to corner Congress on the issue of nationalism and Hindutva. What is your opinion on these two issues?
This word effort bothers me. I don't need to counter them on religion and nationalism. People of my family have shed their blood for this country. We don't need to take certificate of patriotism from BJP leaders. Nor will it ever happen. The religion of a leader is to serve the people. We will follow this religion throughout our life. From Lord Ram to every Hindu religious leader and Mahatma has taught the same. Anyway, BJP's views on both these subjects are hollow. Using religion politically for power and spreading division in the society for self-interest is adharma. The country is made up of 140 crore people. BJP calls the farmers of the country terrorists. Youths seeking jobs are beaten with sticks. The middle class does not listen to the common people. On top of that, the capital of the entire country deceives its 22 friends. It deceives 140 crore people of the country by taking electoral bonds and election promises. Elected governments are toppled by money power. How did BJP, which is harming the countrymen, become nationalist? Religion is a deep feeling of the people of India. People should improve their conduct by adopting religion. Make religion a means of setting a moral path. As Gandhiji and Swami Vivekananda did. They made religion a means of morality and not power. Look at the BJP, their leaders call Modi Ji greater than God. Modi Ji himself has started saying that he is an angel.

Question: It is said about India that there is confusion regarding leadership. Do you agree with the presidential system of governance?
The coordination in the alliance is very good. All things are being decided with the consent of all. My own experience during the elections has been that all the parties have shown unity everywhere. This was also seen among the workers. When our Constitution was made, personalities like Bhimrao Ambedkar, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Maulana Azad played their role. I think if they had not opted for President's rule for our country, they would definitely have had the wisdom to do so. What needs to be changed today? Because today our Prime Minister feels that all the power should be in the hands of one person? So should we now change our entire working style and constitutional process? I do not think this is appropriate.

Question: It is said that due to weak communication, Congress is not able to reach its message to the public. What was the strategy to ensure that Congress' promises reach the public this time?
I have already said that this time we are completely focusing on the issues of the public. The media, BJP tried hard to divert attention, but our focus is on the problems of the public and the guarantee of their solution. For example, if women are troubled by inflation, then we are directly giving a solution to that problem that a woman from a poor family will get Rs 8500 every month. We will give 10 kg ration, health insurance up to Rs 25 lakh and will waive education loan.

Question: In the last few years many old and new leaders have left the party, has this affected the morale of the party?
The politics of protest and struggle is always difficult. Those who are going to fight are fighting, those who are going to bow down and get scared are leaving. Yes, the morale of the party falls, but the courage to fight also increases because gradually such people come forward who have courage.

Question: Constitution was the biggest issue among the people in this election. How do you see this debate?
The question is even deeper and more serious. The question is that today the public cannot trust the Prime Minister enough to not change the Constitution. The Prime Minister has destroyed and weakened every institution of democracy. This is a very serious problem for our country. He himself started talking about changing the Constitution and today, under public pressure, he is denying it everywhere. These things are dangerous for democracy and the country. The post of Prime Minister has a level. There is a responsibility. Today she has started feeling light. Changing the Constitution means that you will weaken the rights and reservations of the people. This is fatal for democracy.

Question: BJP has alleged that Mangalsutra will be snatched away, Congress will give backward class reservation to Muslim community, what will you say on this?
BJP has made these allegations citing our manifesto. I want everyone and BJP to read our manifesto. I challenge the people of BJP to find these things in our manifesto. It is in our manifesto that we will give 8500 rupees every month to women. 30 lakh posts will be filled. Farmers will be given MSP. But why is the Prime Minister discussing our manifesto so much? Does he not have any manifesto? What is BJP planning for the future of the country? What is there to control unemployment and inflation? He does not have any thinking at all, so he is imagining what is not in our manifesto and getting it discussed in the media.

Question: The pressure of investigative agencies on leaders has increased a lot, do you feel the pressure?
Today the investigating agencies are no longer neutral. They themselves are under pressure. No government servant or official likes to work under such pressure. Sadly, the agencies which were entrusted with the responsibility of preventing crime have today become pawns in the political games and conspiracies of a dictator. As far as the pressure on us is concerned, what can I say? They tried very hard. Even my 77-year-old mother was called for questioning even though everyone knew that her health was critical. But to be honest, when my husband went for the first time, my children were worried. The second time it subsided and then when he went repeatedly, the impact was over. Both my husband and brother faced all this bravely. Today personally my entire family has become stronger, united and courageous because of this attack.

Question: Women voters have emerged as the X factor in elections these days. What is the Congress' strategy to connect with them?
Women empowerment is not a question of strategy, but of responsibility, but of vision. Women empowerment is a national need. When I started the campaign to bring women to the center of elections, BJP leaders used to make fun of it. But, I am happy that after our initiative, today all the parties are making announcements for women. Women are being discussed. Congress has heard the voice of women across the country. We have said in our manifesto that we will give Rs 1 lakh annually to women from poor families, will give 50% reservation to women in central jobs, honorarium of Asha-Anganwadi will be increased, hostels will be built for working women. Our governments in Karnataka and Telangana have created models of women empowerment and our focus is on them.

Q: Among all the opposition party leaders, with whom do you have a good rapport?
These are the best relations. Personally, I have a good relationship with Mamata didi. However, I have never talked to her on political issues. I have a good relationship with Lalu Prasad Yadav ji for a long time. I respect him.

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