Lucknow: After generating much political buzz by kicking off a successful roadshow in the state capital last month, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra appears determined to explore an ingenious means of reaching out to the electorate — the river route.
The big idea is to formally kick off campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls from the political hotbed of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Prayagraj and Varanasi, using the river route this Monday. “It would be the first time that any leader of this stature will be reaching out to the electorate using the motorboat, getting first-hand account of the people residing in these remote riverine areas,” Congress spokesman Dwijendra Tripathi told PTI.
This will provide her an opportunity to interact with the commoners and understand their problems, the biggest of which is caused by recurring floods in these areas as well as the grim reality of the Ganga, the cleansing of which was first launched by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Dwijendra Tripathi said. Another Congress spokesman Anshu Tripathi said, “These villages and people have been living on the fringes for long and have been neglected by successive state governments.
This is an attempt by the Congress leadership to let them know of its sincerity.” Priyanka, 47, who was recently appointed Congress general secretary in-charge of eastern UP, will cover a distance of about 110 to 112 km touching Prayagraj, Bhadohi, Mirzapur and Varanasi.
Reaching the villages by river, she will use a narrow broken trail taken by the locals to interact with as many people as possible, Awasthi said, adding that a detailed programme is being worked out. Political analyst Ramesh Dixit, while admitting that he did not remember any leader using the river route for campaigning, said this was only aimed at giving at public perception and grabbing eyeballs on TV channels. But there is more to it.
“The target is to reach out to the Mallah, Kewat and Nishad communities of boatmen, fishermen and agriculturalists living along the river…and to learn first-hand about the difficulties faced by them,’’ said Dixit, a retired head of the political science department of Lucknow University. Priyanka’s plans for the first phase of her campaign was stated in a letter submitted to the Election Commission and permission has been sought for her visit from Prayagraj to Varanasi from March 18 to March 20.
The letter also informs that Priyanka will use a motorboat to cover the distance of around 100 km. Congress circles say that Priyanka may also offer prayers at Maa Vindhayavasini temple in Mirzapur and Kashi Vishwanath in Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.