How Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Explained Alliance With Muslim Cleric In Bengal

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, campaigning in Assam for elections ahead, today responded to allegations – even from dissidents within — of the party compromising its core ideology with its tie-ups with organisations like the AIUDF and ISF. In an exclusive interview with NDTV, she defended the alliances but avoided comment on the dissidents – dubbed the Congress’s G-23 – who have been publicly questioning the party.

Priyanka Gandhi was asked about the party being accused of aligning with outfits like Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) in Assam and the Indian Secular Front (ISF) in Bengal.

“If you are referring to certain comments made yesterday, our West Bengal PCC chief has already responded to those comments. But what is being fought for in Assam is Assam itself. It is the identity of Assamese people, the Assamese state. There are differences between ideologies. We may not agree 100% with what our alliance partners believe. But we are together in this fight. Because everybody understands today it is a fight to save Assam,” the Congress general secretary told NDTV.

This was her only response to the barbs by “G-23” leader Anand Sharma. The Congress veteran yesterday openly questioned the party’s Bengal chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury over the tie-up with cleric Abbas Siddique’s ISF, accused by some of being communal. Mr Chowdhury replied that he had the leadership’s sanction, and later posted a detailed pushback in a Twitter thread.

Priyanka Gandhi said the Congress had put up a strong, united campaign in Assam. “Every worker now understands this is not a Congress vs BJP election. It is an Assam identity vs RSS-BJP ideology election,” said the leader, who spent a better part of her visit in the tea gardens, interacting with the workers and even trying her hand at plucking tea leaves.

On the Congress’s organizational challenges, the 49-year-old said: “every general secretary in every state” was working hard. “It may or may not have the results you expect but the work is on continuously to gather our troops, create a good campaign, build a good organization…”

She continued: “My message for voters all over the country is – please recognize what you are voting for. Are they delivering on promises? Are they working for you?”

The Congress leader said the BJP, in the past five years, had broken its promises to Assam.

“They said they would not implement CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) and they did. That has had a deep impact on Assam. It is a deeply ideological fight, it is a fight for the state of Assam.”

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