Mananthavady: It was a speech reflecting the clarity of a political leader and the emotions of a sister as AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra addressed a mammoth public meet here in Kerala's Wayanad on Saturday.
In a carefully drafted speech which had three parts, Priyanka attacked the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, mentioned the tribal culture of Wayanad and spoke at length about the qualities of her brother Rahul Gandhi, the Congress president and UDF candidate from the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency.
The meeting was delayed by over two hours but the thousands of UDF workers, who had gathered at the Valliyoorkavu temple grounds, waited patiently for listening to the charismatic leader.
The Modi government betrayed the faith of the people in the past five years, Priyanka said. The BJP government cheated the farmers of Uttar Pradesh and the tribals of Wayanad alike, she added.
Mentioning the BJP's 204 poll promises such as doubling the income of farmers, providing 2 crore jobs per year and depositing Rs 15 lakh into people's accounts, Priyanka said the central government failed to fulfill all these.
In an emotional appeal to the audience, Priyanka invoked the memories of her late grandmother and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. She said it was due to Indira's respect for tribal culture, the Congress could form policies that aimed to take forward the tribal people even while preserving their culture.
Priyanka spent most of her speech speaking about her brother and wanted to reveal a lesser-known side of Rahul's persona.
Rahul had been personally attacked by political rivals in the past 10 years, she said.
She remembered Rahul saying he would work hard to fulfill the dreams of his father Rajiv Gandhi after he was assassinated. Projecting Rahul as a kind person, Priyanka said even after their father's assassination, he said there was no amount of hatred in him.
"My brother is a true believer of equality. He will never stay silent in the face of inequality," she added.
Priyanka remembered how her brother went ahead with the plans to democratise the frontal organisations of the party despite facing stiff opposition. She said several young MLAs in the country had told her that they would not have been where they were had it not been for the programmes initiated by Rahul.
Priyanka was all emotional when she described her brother as a true believer of religious plurality. She concluded her speech by saying that she was giving her brother to the people of Wayanad.
Arrival at Kannur
Priyanka, one of the star Congress campaigners for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, reached Mananthavady on a chopper after arriving at Kannur airport.
She addressed a farmers' meeting at Pulpally before visiting the family of V V Vasantha Kumar, the CRPF jawan who lost his life in Pulwama terrorist attack.
Priyanka will also address a gathering in Nilambur and Areekode, which is in Malappuram district. She will stay for the night at Vythiri resort and travel back on Sunday, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee said.
A resort in Kozhikode is also under consideration for her stay following the Maoist attack at a resort in Vythiri recently.
The Wayanad constituency of Kerala had shot to limelight after Rahul decided to contest from here apart from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
Rahul's key opponents in the electoral contest in Wayanad are CPI's P P Suneer and NDA's Tushar Vellapally.
Congress expects a high-pitched campaign by Priyanka just three days after Rahul's extensive electoral campaign could help the party favourably in the election.
NDA leader Smriti Irani's presence in the constituency on Sunday following Priyanka'a visit is expected to add more excitement to the Wayanad face-off and the elections in Kerala in general.
The state will vote on April 23 in the third phase of the Indian general elections to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha, the Lower House of the Parliament.