Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday addressed her first public rally since she joined active politics earlier this year. Addressing the Jan Sankalp Rally in Gujarat, Vadra took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, questioning him on employment, black money and the safety of women.

She said she was “saddened” by what was happening in the country.

“Your vote is a weapon, don’t get misled,” she told the gathering. “It is a weapon not to hurt anyone...but it makes you stronger...You have to think what this election means, what is your role? You are going to decide your future... The important topics during elections should be related to progress? Who will work for the farmers, who will work for the safety of women...these are the election topics.”

Gandhi said the elections are no less than the fight for independence, and said institutions of the country are being attacked.

The Congress Working Committee is the highest decision-making body of the party and met in Gujarat, Modi’s home state, for the first time since 1961. The meeting was postponed after the Pulwama terror attack on February 14. The CWC members observed a minute’s silence to pay respect to the 40 Central Reserve Police Force jawans who were killed in the Pulwama attack, The Indian Express reported.

Earlier on Tuesday, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi accused Modi of politicising the terror attack, News18 reported. “The people have been victimised, but PM Modi is playing the victim card,” she said. The meeting of the party’s Central Election Committee will be held on March 14 at her residence in Delhi, ANI reported.

Rahul Gandhi promises minimum income guarantee

Congress President Rahul Gandhi at the rally reiterated that if his party comes to power in 2019, it will implement common minimum programme across the country. In January too, Gandhi had said his party would implement such a scheme if voted to power in the General Elections.

He also said that the party is committed to waive farm loans like it had in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. The Congress president said Modi was only working towards “forgiving” the loans of the rich businessmen of the country, not the farmers.

Gandhi alleged that all institutions in India were under attack. He said it was the first time in history that four Supreme Court judges had claimed that they were “not being allowed to work”. He was referring to the unprecedented press conference held in January 2018 by the top four judges of the Supreme Court to openly protest against alleged maladministration under then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

“Usually people go to the Supreme Court for justice, but in today’s India, Supreme Court judges asked for justice in front of India,” he said. Gandhi also claimed that the Narendra Modi government had removed former Central Bureau of Investigation chief Alok Verma from his post as he was investigating the Rafale deal.

He said the Narendra Modi government was ignoring the actual issues that the country is facing, like unemployment. “Unemployment is highest in 45 years...Youth are travelling to different parts of the country to find employment,” he said.

Attacking the Centre on Rafale jet deal, Gandhi claimed Narendra Modi had “stolen” Rs 30,000 crore from the Indian Air Force and given it to businessman Anil Ambani.

Gandhi further alleged that former French President Francois Hollande had claimed that the “Indian prime minister had told him that the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was not going to get the contract of Rafale jet deal, but Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence was going to get it”.

He repeated that the Bharatiya Janata Party government had released Masood Azhar, the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief, in 1999 during the Kandahar plane hijack incident. On Monday too, Gandhi had made similar comments at a Congress workers’ meeting in New Delhi.

“Masood Azhar’s Jaish-e-Mohammed planned Pulwama terror attack. I want to ask Narendra Modi who released Masood Azhar during Kandahar hijacking,” Gandhi said at the Gandhinagar rally.