Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi on Monday said reality is very different from what the Bharatiya Janata Party wants to portray through its propaganda. “I have seen the reality in the eyes of youth who meet me everywhere, who complain about lack of jobs,” she claimed at a rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Fatehpur Sikri. “I have seen it in the eyes of potato growers who come to Rae Bareli and Lucknow, who tell me that they are drowning in debt, or that the costs they have to bear are not affordable.”

Gandhi claimed she met a farmer who said he made a profit of just Rs 490 after travelling to Maharashtra from Uttar Pradesh to sell his stock. The Congress leader said the farmer sent this money to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a mark of protest.

“Whenever you question the government, you are called anti-national,” she told the audience. “I met people who were beaten up, charged under various laws and labelled anti-national for questioning the government...and the government calls itself nationalist.”

“If you are nationalists, respect the martyrs of India,” Gandhi said. “Stop insulting the freedom fighters of India who sacrificed for the country. If you are nationalists, speak about India, not Pakistan, in your election rallies. Tell the youth of India what you will do for them, tell the women of India, tell the farmers and the poor what schemes you will implement for them.”

“If you are nationalists, why did you honour those who murdered in the name of religion instead of sharing the grief of the victim’s family,” she asked. “If you are nationalists why don’t you respect the democracy which elected you? Why do you try to destroy the institutions of democracy? Why do you want to silence the people of the country?”

Gandhi claimed that the government respects neither democracy, nor its institutions, nor the people of India. “If they were real nationalists, they would have realised that this country is built on the foundation of truth,” she said. “Those who stray from this path are not spared by the country. You will also not be spared, because you have strayed from the path of truth long ago.”

The Congress leader claimed that on the other hand, her party has always protected and advanced the cause of democracy, and has been grateful to the people of India for allowing it to serve them.

The Lok Sabha elections are being held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, and the results will be announced on May 23. There has been speculation that Priyanka Gandhi, who made her sudden entry to politics in January, will contest the polls.