With an appeal to the people of Uttar Pradesh to bring the Congress to power at the Centre in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, party president Rahul Gandhi presented his party as the one that can bring a progressive government for farmers, Dalits, youth and the poor.

Addressing Congress supporters in Lucknow on Monday at the conclusion of a massive roadshow with Priyanka Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia, the 48-year-old Gandhi said that there is need to empower grassroot leaders to help bring the party to power and fulfil the aspirations of the people.

Slamming the BJP-RSS, Gandhi said, “This is an ideological battle. On one hand there is the Congress ideology of love, harmony and brotherhood. On the other, there is BJP-RSS ideology of dividing and weakening the nation.”

Urging Congress workers to “transform UP”, Gandhi said that PM Modi’s “hollow promises of have come to light”.

“Congress workers must fight this battle with issues that concern the youth, farmers. There is no dearth of issues. Congress party will fight to transform UP and the nation,” he added, while assuring the supporters that the party will “play on the front foot”.

Criticising Narendra Modi over the promises he made, Gandhi said that the youth of the country believe that the Prime Minister has failed to fulfil them.

“Uttar Pradesh has witnessed what Narendra Modi did for the last 5 years in the country. Youth are saying that Modi failed his promise to provide employment and benefited only people like Anil Ambani,” he said.

Attacking the NDA government and PM Modi over the Rafale deal, in which the Congress smells a scam, Gandhi cited a series of media reports stating that the Defence Ministry expressed its strong reservations to the “parallel negotiations” conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) with France on the multi-billion dollar fighter jet deal and that the government removed the anti-corruption clause from the Rafale fighter jet defence deal.

“Modi had said that he has a 56-inch chest. He wants to be a ‘Chowkidar’. The truth has now surfaced that he conducted parallel negotiations in the Rafale deal. The clause that enabled investigation in case of corruption, was waived off by Mr. Modi,” he said.

Also Read | Defence Ministry objected to PMO role in Rafale deal, says report; Rahul Gandhi slams PM Modi 

Earlier today, Gandhi had accused PM Modi of “facilitating loot” in the Rafale fighter jet deal with France.

“Every defence deal has an anti-corruption clause. The Hindu has reported that the PM removed the anti-corruption clause. It is clear that the PM facilitated loot,” Gandhi told reporters outside the Andhra Bhawan in New Delhi where he came to support Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s protest against the Centre.

Read More: PM Modi facilitated loot in Rafale deal: Rahul Gandhi

“NoMo anti corruption clause. The Chowkidar himself opened the door to allow Anil Ambani to steal 30,000 crore from the IAF,” Gandhi tweeted from his official handle using his “chowkidaar chor hai” jibe at the PM while attaching a report.

The report, published by The Hindu, stated that just days before it signed the Inter-governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale fighter jets, the Centre had waived off critical provisions for anti-corruption penalties as well as overruled financial advisers’ recommendations for making payments through an escrow account.

Mega roadshow

Monday’s roadshow, which was witnessed by thousands in the city, marked the official entry of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra into active politics.

Appointed Congress general secretary of Uttar Pradesh East last month by her brother, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is being seen by Congress loyalists as a fortune changer for the grand old party in electorally powerful Uttar Pradesh.

From onboard an open top bus, Priyanka Gandhi, her brother Rahul, Scindia and Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Raj Babbar were seen waving to a sea of supporters who had gathered to catch a glimpse of the leaders.

Read More: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra kicks off mega Lucknow roadshow with Rahul

The approximately 20-km long roadshow started from Amausi airport to the Nehru Bhawan office of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee located a Mall Avenue near Hazratganj.

Ahead of her visit to the state, a group of party workers geared up to work as her “army”, complete with a pink uniform that has her photo and a message. They call themselves the ‘Priyanka Sena’.

Earlier on Sunday, in a message to party supporters and voters, Priyanka Gandhi said she hopes to start a “new kind of politics” in which “everyone will be a stakeholder”.

“… I have hope in my heart that together we will start a new kind of politics, a politics in which all of you will be stakeholders — my young friends, my sisters and even the weakest person, all their voices will be heard,” said Gandhi through the Congress’s Shakti App.

While Priyanka will concentrate on 42 seats of eastern UP, Scindia will focus on 38 seats of western UP.

Priyanka’s first meeting is scheduled with the workers of the Mohanlalganj (reserved) constituency while the last interaction slated for Thursday will be with the workers of the Misrikh (reserved) Lok Sabha seat.

UP East also has Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Modi, and Gorakhpur, a stronghold of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.