Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi on Saturday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that he does not respect the people, and that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government is not a strong government. She also implied that Modi is not a true nationalist.

“If a leader is a true nationalist, he bows before the people,” Gandhi said in Areekode, near Wayanad in Kerala. “If he is a true nationalist, then he understands that when someone in his party criticises women, it is against the culture of his country.”

The 2019 General Elections are being held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, and the results will be declared on May 23. Voting for all 20 constituencies in Kerala will be held on April 23. Congress President Rahul Gandhi will contest from Wayanad, in addition to Amethi.

“When a leader is a true nationalist, when someone kills someone else in the name of religion, he does not felicitate the killers, he goes to the family of the affected and asks what he can do for them,” Gandhi said. “If a leader is a true nationalist, he does not spread hate, he spreads love. He does not divide, he unites. He does not try to oppress the voice of the people. He feels happy to be questioned as he knows that the wisdom of the people is supreme, and they are telling him to change.”

The Congress general secretary said a true nationalist focuses on problems that matter to the people. “He does not try to bring up issues during elections that have no focus on your development,” she said. “If a leader is a true nationalist, he speaks less about himself and more about the people of his country.”


Gandhi said the BJP spends over half the time criticising the Opposition. “They speak about Pakistan, but not about India. They do not speak about your hopes and aspirations.”

“A prime minister who cannot take out a single day to visit a single constituent in his own constituency in five years does not respect the people of his country,” Gandhi said. “A prime minister who is afraid of questions...who is afraid of criticism, who cannot tolerate dissent, is not a strong prime minister. A government that suppresses its own people, that does not allow freedom of speech, to practice your own religion, your culture, is not a strong government. And weakest of all is a government that divides you instead of uniting you.”

Gandhi claimed that to protect itself, the government wants to disrupt the Constitution and destroy its institutions. “Democracy is your weapon,” she said. “Your vote is your weapon.”

The Congress leader said the people must question BJP advertisements that say they have gifted certain things to the them. “Nothing any government does for your development is a favour, it is their duty,” she said.

Gandhi said policies like demonetisation and the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax have caused suffering to the people. “It was after the Congress came to power [in some states in 2018], farmers’ loans began to be waived,” she said. “If the Congress comes to power, it promises a separate budget for farmers. The Congress proposes that farmers who are not able to repay their loans will no longer be subject to criminal laws.”

The Congress proposes to provide free education till Class 12 in government schools, and free healthcare in government hospitals. “And we propose a programme called NYAY,” she said. “Through this programme, people who are poor will be provided Rs 72,000 per year by the government. We do not propose policies to strengthen our power, but to strengthen you.”

The Congress leader urged the people of Wayanad to use their vote to protect the country, democracy, their rights, freedom and to build a bright future. “This country belongs to you,” she said. “Defend the values on which it was built and on which it stands, because in doing so you will defend yourself and protect your own futures. Those values are truth, equality, love and freedom.”