With 21 days to go before the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections, political parties and candidates across the country have intensified their campaign.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit back at Rahul Gandhi for his 'chowkidar chor hai' barb at him, saying the Congress president has insulted people working as guards and asserted that the word 'chowkidar' has now become synonymous with patriotism and honesty.
In an interaction with watchmen from across the country, Modi said his rivals lacked guts to name him and attack him directly, and instead resorted to targeting watchmen. With the prime minister often projecting himself as the country's 'chowkidar', Gandhi had coined the "chowkidar chor hai" (watchman is a thief) slogan to allege corruption in the Rafale deal, a charge denied by the government.
Coming to Congress, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should stop thinking that people are fools and understand that they see through everything.
The Congress leader, who is in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, is on a three-day boat journey down the Ganga, meeting people living on the banks of the holy river as part of her outreach ahead of the general election beginning on April 11. "The prime minister has attacked every institution in this country for the last five years, including the institution of which all of you are a part," Priyanka Gandhi told reporters.
"So I think the PM should stop thinking that people are fools and understand that they see through all this," she added. The Congress general secretary went on to say that she is not afraid of being "harassed". "Even if anything is done, and we are harassed, we will not feel afraid. We will continue our fight against them. The more we are harassed, the stronger will be our fight," she said.
In Uttar Pradesh, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati announced that she will not contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, but kept open the option of fighting a parliamentary by-election later. "In view of the present circumstances and the need of the country and the interests of the party, the movement and the public, it is the need of the hour that I do not contest the Lok Sabha polls. And this is the reason that I have decided not to contest the Lok Sabha polls," Mayawati said in Lucknow.
In Tamil Nadu, DMK president M K Stalin invoked the legacy of his late father M Karunanidhi to assure people that poll promises will be fulfilled unlike Prime
Minister Narendra Modi who did not raise farmers' income.
Hitting the campaign trail in Tiruvarur in the Cauvery delta heartland after announcing his party candidates on March 17, Stalin announced crop loan waiver for all sections of farmers and not only small and marginal sections. "I have come here only after asking the party manifesto panel to release an amendment incorporating loan waiver for all sections of farmers," Stalin said.
Prakash Chandra Hota, editor of News18 Chhattisgarh; Shripal Shaktawat, senior editor News18- Rajasthan; Vineet Kumar, senior correspondent with News18; Shunondo K Datta Ray, senior journalist & author and Vinod Sharma, political editor at Hindustan Times spoke at length about the upcoming election.