A rare show of bonhomie amid the high-octane election campaigning in the Uttar Pradesh election campaign was witnessed on Thursday when Congress Secretary-General Priyanka Gandhi Vadra waved and waved Akhilesh Yadav, leader of the Samajwadi party, and Jayant Chaudhary, leader of Rashtriya Lok Dal, from theirs respective vehicles.
The greetings were shared amid loud cheers and applause in Bulandshahr by the state’s top opposition leaders.
While Priyanka waved from an open-topped van, the other two leaders, who had joined hands for the upcoming seven-phase election, waved back from their campaign bus with smiles.
This isn’t the first time Vadra and Yadav have greeted each other with a smile and made way for a good photo op lately. The duo met on a flight to Lucknow in October and even snapped a photo together. The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, had then said they had told each other “that they should meet soon”.
The Samajwadi Party and Congress are separately contesting the high-octane election to overthrow the state’s Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government. They had entered the 2017 election campaign together and cut ties after finding out it wasn’t working.
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However, neither party has talked about a possible post-poll alliance, if the numbers allow.
Earlier in the day, Vadra, who was visiting a family of rape victims in Bulandshahr, said police were trying to crack down on the case. “The victim’s family is being pressured. The family says there was a gang rape, but the police ignore it. We have reassured the family and we will ensure justice,” she was quoted as saying by the news outlet ANI.
Chaudhary said that if the SP and RLD governments came to power, their first priority would be to ensure women’s safety. “We are committed to improving the police department and introducing reforms,” he said.
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The Vadra-led congress has aggressively campaigned for women’s empowerment with the motto “Ladki hoon, lad sakti hoon” (I am a woman, I can fight). It has also fielded a number of women as candidates across the state.
Meanwhile, the BJP continued to approach Chaudhary to reconsider his alliance with Yadav. Union Interior Minister and party leader Amit Shah, speaking at an election rally in the Anupshahr Assembly constituency in Bulandshahr, said Yadav does not even listen to his father and uncle, there is little chance he would report to the RLD chief.
Recently the BJP said its doors are always open to the RLD. Chaudhary has so far rejected such advances. The RLD has a significant presence in the western UP, where jats are a determining factor in nearly all seats