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Published On: Thu, May 2nd, 2019

Our primary aim in UP is to defeat the BJP: Rahul Gandhi

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download (1)NEW DELHI : Rahul Gandhi today defended his decision to field candidates in Uttar Pradesh against those of Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, reinforcing the comments that have landed his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in a controversy. “It is pretty clear that in UP, a secular formation is winning, whether it is the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party or Congress,” the Congress president told NDTV in his first television interview in the 2019 national election.
Rahul Gandhi echoed Priyanka Gandhi’s comment that Congress candidates had been put up to harm the BJP wherever they were weak. “I have told my sister and told Jyotir that our primary aim in UP is to defeat the BJP. In the places where we are not going to win the elections, let’s support the gathbandhan. And the gathbandhan and Congress party are going to clean Uttar Pradesh up,” he said, referring to Priyanka Gandhi and Jyotiaditya Scindia, who are sharing charge of the Congress campaign in Uttar Pradesh for the Lok Sabha election.
Asked about being left out of the Mayawati-Akhilesh Yadav club in India’s most politically vital state, Rahul Gandhi said: “You have to ask the SP and BSP. They chose this for strategic reasons.”
That said, he added: “Well obviously in the UP context, the Congress is a threat to Mayawati and Mulayam Singh. But as far as I am concerned I am extremely respectful of Mayawati ji and Akhilesh Yadav ji. And I understand that there is a secular formation that is operating in the UP and it is going to crush the BJP.”

Priyanka Gandhi’s comment on fielding “weak Congress candidates to eat into BJP votes” drew skepticism from Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati. Reacting angrily to suggestions that she and the Congress were helping the BJP by splitting the votes against it, she said: “I would rather die than help the BJP in any way.”
Both Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav had scoffed at her statement. “I don’t believe that the Congress has fielded weak candidates anywhere. No party does it. People are not with them, so they are making excuses,” said Akhilesh Yadav.
The BSP chief said cuttingly: “The BJP and the Congress are the same. Don’t waste your vote on the Congress. Is Rahul Gandhi immature? Why did he hug Prime Minister (Narendra Modi?).”
Responding to BSP chief Mayawati’s vitriolic attacks on the Congress, Priyanka Gandhi repeated: “I have not said I am putting weak candidates in areas. I said Congress is fighting these elections on its own strength. Our candidates are fighting strongly in most constituencies.
I was asked this specific question that said are you benefitting the BJP? I said I would die than benefit the BJP. I have made it extremely clear in my research that we have chosen candidates that are fighting strongly or cutting their votes.”

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