Lucknow : Justifying his controversial “begging” remark, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi Tuesday said those criticising him for it were not aware about the ground realities.
“Yes, I said in Phulpur (Allahabad) that people from Uttar Pradesh go to Delhi for begging. I can say that because I talk to beggars,” said Gandhi, who has embarked upon a mass contact programme in Uttar Pradesh.
“If those (politicians) criticising me, slide down the windowpane of their cars in Mumbai and Delhi and ask the children begging there about their native places, they would come to know where they (beggars) actually come from…they come from Uttar Pradesh,” Gandhi told a gathering in Bahraich, some 240 km from Lucknow.
Gandhi said the politicians criticising him over the statement, “sitting inside TV studios”, “must mingle with the masses” to become aware about the ground realities.
Gandhi had made the “begging” remark at a rally at the Phulpur constituency in Allahabad Nov 14.
“For how long would UP youths go and beg in Maharashtra,” Gandhi had asked while addressing the rally in Phulpur, kicking off the Congress campaign for the ensuing assembly elections.
Political parties, including Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), labelled the statement as “demeaning” to the people of the state.
The parties had even asked Gandhi to apologise for the remark.
Meanwhile, amidst protests by some party activists disgruntled over the distribution of tickets for the upcoming assembly elections, Gandhi tried to unite the party workers and pacify them.
“I am sure the hard work of our party workers will make Congress victorious…If Congress wins, the first credit will be of the party workers, who would also be given proper respect in the Congress,” said Gandhi, who had to face a protest by a group of Congress party workers in Lucknow.
The Congress activists tried to stop Gandhi’s vehicle as they were not happy over the distribution of some of the party tickets for the assembly polls.
In Kaiserganj town, Samajwadi Party (SP) activists clashed with Congress workers while trying to approach Gandhi with black flags.
During his five-day mass-contact programme, Gandhi will tour various districts of Uttar Pradesh, including Maharajganj, Shravasti, Balrampur and Kushinagar.