PM sad for tweet by 22-yr-old woman, but not for flood-hit people in Assam: Priyanka

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(Eds: Adding more quotes) Jorhat/Nazira/Khumtai (Assam), Mar 21 (PTI) Launching a frontal attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Sunday alleged he is sad about a tweet by a 22-year-old woman but not for the flood-ravaged people of Assam.

A day after Modi raised the toolkit issue and alleged Congress conspiracy in it at a poll rally in Chabua in Assam, the daughter of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, lamented that Modi was silent about people's suffering in perennial flood and 'attack on culture' by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

Last year's flooding of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries during the pandemic affected some 2.8 million people in Assam.

'I was listening to the Prime Minister's speech yesterday. He very seriously said that he was very sad about a development. I thought he would speak about Assam's development or how BJP worked in Assam.

'But I was shocked to hear that the PM was talking about a tweet by a 22-year-old woman. He said Congress conspired to finish the tea industry of Assam. He was also sad about Congress mistakenly putting two wrong pictures on social media,' Vadra said.

During his speech on Saturday, the prime minister apparently referred to Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg's controversial toolkit, which she tweeted and then deleted, outlining ways in which people can participate in the farmers protest.

One of the points reportedly mentioned there was to 'disrupt yoga and chai image of India in general'.

While addressing poll meetings at Jorhat, Nazira and Khumtai, she questioned Modi why he was not sad for the people affected by the miseries of tea garden workers, flood and the anti-CAA movement, in which five youths were killed.

'Why didn't you come to Assam when people were drowning? Why were you not sad when all the big promises by BJP were not fulfilled? Did you go to tea gardens and talk to workers about their problems?' she asked of Modi.

Vadra on March 2 visited a tea garden in Biswanath of Assam to interact with the workers and also tried her hands in plucking tea leaves, which was termed as 'theatrics and drama' by the BJP leadership.

Talking about her visit to a tea garden during her last trip to Assam, the Congress general secretary said she came to know a lot about their lifestyle then and realised that 'the tea garden sisters are the protectors of culture and identity'.

On the prime minister's frequently uttered statement of 'double-engine' government in Assam, Vadra made fun of it saying the state currently has 'two chief ministers', in an apparent reference to rumours of powerful minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal acting as rival power centres.

'The PM said you have a double-engine government but Assam has two CMs. I don't know which fuel runs which engine.

The Assam government is not run in Assam. Even the Asom Gana Parishad (an ally of the ruling BJP) is now Delhi Gana Parishad as it can't work without Delhi's permission... God save you! 'The Assam government is currently run by remote control. If you elect them again, you will be hurt. So, elect a Congress government and have your own chief minister,' she added.

The Congress leader also alleged that all segments of the society, including youths, farmers and tea garden workers, have been cheated by the BJP government as it did not fulfil any of its promises made five years ago.

'Today, I think I will not speak about big issues, but the small problems of my sisters. You carry the biggest responsibility of the society. You run the home, bring up the children and also earn for the household.

'It is your life's problems and realities. I don't know them. My leaders don't know them. You are my sister. So, please take a decision carefully for your future,' she appealed to the crowd, consisting mostly of women.

Vadra pointed out the BJP's promises of 2016 such as 25 lakh jobs, protection of culture, implementation of Assam Accord and minimum wages to tea gardens, and alleged that none of these have been fulfilled.

Vadra said that three lakh government jobs are lying vacant at present, while there are 40 lakh unemployed youths in Assam.

Continuing her tirade against Modi, she said, 'The PM also said the Congress insulted Assamese culture and people won't forgive us. Now, is it not an insult to former CM Tarun Gogoi, who is no more today? Gogoi lived for Assam and worked for people till his last breath.' She also slammed Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for allegedly insulting 15th-16th century Vaishnavite scholar Srimanta Sankardeva by stating that he drew attention towards infiltration.

Vadra alleged the BJP's sole aim is to 'hand over' prime properties, including land near Kaziranga National Park, the state electricity board, Numaligarh Refinery and ONGC, to Modi's 2-3 close businessmen friends.

'The BJP wanted to hand over farmers land in Nagaon to a corporate. When protests took place, a pregnant woman was attacked and farmers were jailed. They also brought an ordinance to sell land to anyone from outside without any permission,' she added.

The AICC general secretary also slammed the ruling party for 'giving' two black panthers of Assam to the 'son of his (Modi's) businessman friend', a reference to shifting of the two animals from Guwahati Zoo to a private zoo owned by industrialist Mukesh Ambani's son in Gujarat.

Vadra said Assam has a huge unemployment problem, while several big scams have surfaced in the last five years.

'How can you trust them (BJP)? You have seen what you have got in five years. Tarun Gogoi might have committed some mistakes, but he never cheated you. He did not bring the CAA and attacked your culture and identity,' she added.

Vadra also alleged that the BJP government is running syndicates in every item and 'destroyed' the state instead of progress. PTI TR NN NN