New Delhi: The BJP has underlined a poll strategy for Priyanka Gandhi Vadra ahead of the general elections — maintain a stoic silence on the latest political entrant from the Nehru-Gandhi stable.
Sources in the party have told ThePrint that its leadership has issued instructions to ignore her and not target her individually while keeping up the pressure on her brother, Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
The sources said there is a view within the BJP that for now, Priyanka does not have the political heft that the Congress believes she does and so it would be unwise to target her. The BJP also believes that Priyanka doesn’t have the mass appeal and attacking her could help establish Priyanka as a leader without her doing much legwork.
Priyanka had been appointed the Congress’ eastern Uttar Pradesh general secretary last month.
“She has no mass base neither has she done any work,” former union minister and BJP MP Naresh Balyan told ThePrint while elaborating on the party’s assessment of Priyanka Gandhi’s debut in the elections.
“She has no laurels to her credit except that she belongs to the Gandhi family. She is purely a creation of the Lutyens media.”
The BJP also believes that the narrative of Priyanka having joined active politics only now is not entirely true as she has campaigned for the Congress in Rae Bareli and Amethi constituencies over several elections.
Sources stated that a change in the BJP policy, of not taking on Priyanka, may be made after an assessment of her impact, if any, during the Lok Sabha poll campaign.
Party to target Rahul Gandhi
The BJP, however, has decided to attack Priyanka’s brother, Rahul.
Sources in the party said several ministries have been tasked with carrying out a coordinated attack, through the social media, to ‘expose’ Rahul Gandhi’s ‘lies’, particularly over the Rafale deal.
The party has already started the hashtag #RahulGandhiLieChallenge on Twitter, which has seen ministers of the Modi cabinet “call out the lies of the Congress president” while tagging each other.
It appears to have been started by Gen. V.K. Singh, the junior minister in the External Affairs Ministry and the former chief of the Indian Army.
Now this one is really interesting. Let’s crowdsource all the lies. Tag three people you know, who will share with you a @RahulGandhi lie.
— Vijay Kumar Singh (@Gen_VKSingh) March 3, 2019
Singh had used a web page, which claimed that Gandhi, apparently in Ranchi, had asked the public to tell him if he has ever spoken a lie. He later nominated cabinet colleagues Rajyavardhan Rathore and Jayant Sinha along with BJP MP Anurag Thakur to add their bit to the #RahulGandhiLieChallange.
“Hardly a challenge to catch Rahul Gandhi lying, @Gen_VKSingh sir,but accepted!” tweeted Rathore in response. “Here’s when he claimed Rafale offsets of 1.3 L crores,when deal itself is 58k crores! I nominate @PiyushGoyal ji, @manojtiwariMP ji, @kirenrijiju ji #RahulGandhiLieChallenge.”
Hardly a challenge to catch Rahul Gandhi lying, @Gen_VKSingh sir,but accepted!
Here's when he claimed Rafale offsets of 1.3 L crores,when deal itself is 58k crores!
— Col Rajyavardhan Rathore (@Ra_THORe) March 3, 2019
The top BJP leadership has decided to attack Gandhi in wake of the Congress chief’s repeated targeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It is understood that the BJP also wants to buy time to respond to the repeated criticism and seeking of evidence regarding the IAF attacks in Balakot.
“It is diversion tactics,” said a senior party leader. “Gandhi is making a lot of noise about the attacks. Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee is also raking up the attack and demanding data on the number of terrorist deaths.”