Priyanka meets two SP women workers 'attacked' during panchayat polls

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Lucknow, Jul 17 (PTI) Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Saturday met two women workers of the Samajwadi Party with whom BJP activists had allegedly misbehaved during the recent block panchayat chief elections, and demanded repolling at places where violence took place.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had earlier alleged that BJP workers misbehaved with his party candidate Ritu Singh and her proposer Anita Yadav in Lakhimpur Kheri, pulling their 'sarees'.

In a terse message to the ruling party, Priyanka in a Hindi tweet said, 'The goons of the BJP involved in 'cheerharan' of the democracy should hear that women will become pradhans, block pramukhs, MLAs, MPs and prime minister, and defeat the government, which gives patronage to those committing atrocities against women.' 'For justice of all victims of the panchayat poll violence--all my sisters and citizens-- I will write to the State Election Commission,' she said.

After meeting the SP workers, Priyanka told reporters at Semra village in Lakhimpur Kheri's Pasgavan block that it was their constitutional right to file nomination papers and contest elections 'but this right of theirs was snatched'.

'They were beaten up while they had gone to file nominations and disrobed. You can imagine what was going on in their mind. Along with Anita, his 19-year-old son was also there,' Priyanka said, alleging that nobody tried to stop it.

'A CO who tried to intervene was suspended and no action was taken against those who were standing there. The administration remained silent,' she alleged.

The Congress leader told reporters that she came to meet the SP workers as they are women and her 'sisters'.

'I want to tell (them) that each and every woman of India stands with them. I told them not to feel afraid, and have confidence,' she said.

'One day, you will file the nomination papers and emerge victorious in the polls. You must fight and all of us will fight for you,' the Congress leader said.

Priyanka further said, 'This is a fight for democracy. Women were given reservation in our democracy so that their rights can be upheld. And the situation has become such wherein a woman went to file her nomination papers and she was beaten up.' 'This is no democracy. I demand that this election be cancelled and also at all those places, where these type of incidents have occurred, re-polling be held,' she said.

Putting the ball in the state government's court, she said those responsible for such acts should be held accountable.

'Whenever, even a minor incident of this nature happens, the polls are cancelled and re-polls are held. Can anyone win the elections by bringing 10 goons and indulging in violence. Is this our democracy today? We need to ask this. You (media) should raise questions,' she said, stressing that a video of the incident shows everything.

One of the SP workers told reporters that the Congress leader consoled them and told them not to worry.

Her husband said, 'She assured us that we will get justice and I am hopeful that we will get justice. I thank her for coming to my place in honour of the women.' Priyanka refused to commit on contesting polls in future or be the party’s CM face in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections next year.

When asked if she will contest elections in future, Priyanka told reporters in Lakhimpur Kheri,'We will see.' When asked if she will be the party’s CM face for the UP polls, the Congress leader said, 'Should I tell you everything now…' On what would be her party's strategy, Priyanka said wherever there is problem or pain, they will go and stand with people.

'In the past a year and a half, our party has raised the strongest voice. We have hit the roads, our party workers have courted arrests. Rest of the parties have not spoken so much nor they came out (on streets) as compared to us, and we will continue with this,' she said.

UP Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu was also present during Priyanka's meeting with Ritu and Anita.

Meanwhile, a case was registered for damaging public property against three Congress leaders, including Lallu, Priyanka Gandhi sat on a silent protest in front of a Mahatma Gandhi statue at GPO Park in Lucknow.

The case has been registered for damaging public property, holding protest without permission and prior information, Lucknow Police Commissioner D K Thakur said.

Police said Congress workers damaged an iron net structure in the park and violated the Epidemic Diseases Act.

'The FIR has been registered against UP Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu, party leaders Ved Prakash Tripathi and Diljit Singh besides 500-600 unidentified workers. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has not been named in the FIR,' Thakur told PTI. PTI NAV RDK RDK

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