Country built on love, harmony & brotherhood: Priyanka Gandhi at her first rally 

File photo of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 12, 2019, 05.47 PM (IST)

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was recently made Congress general secretary of eastern Uttar Pradesh, addressed her first rally today in Gujarat's Gandhinagar where she said "this country is made on the foundations of love, harmony and brotherhood." She added that "today, whatever is happening in the country is very sad." 

The rally is being seen as the Congress kicking off its campaign for the general elections which will be held from April 11 to May 19. The results will be declared on May 23. 

"Our institutions are being destroyed," said Priyanka. "Wherever you see, hatred is being spread." 

Priyanka, in her address, tried to keep the focus on what might be called pre-February 26 (the date of the Indian Air Force's air strike  on the Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in Pakistan's Balakote) issues. 

"Issues which should be raised must comprise as to what is most important for you and how can you move forward. How will youth get jobs? How will women feel safe? What will be done for farmers? 

"These are the issues for elections," said Priyanka. 

A number of polls and pollsters of course have said support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi has risen since the air strike. 

"Nothing matters more to us that you and I protect this nation, work for it and move forward together," Priyanka said on Tuesday. 

Congress president Rahul Gandhi was also present at the rally but WION's political editor Kartikeya Sharma said it was Priyanka who "stole the show". 

"Her speech, in which she attacked Prime Minister Modi, was well received by the people," he added. 

"Her choice of words was good... she'll be the one to get the headlines." 

Also present at the Congress rally was Patidar leader Hardik Patel who joined the party on Wednesday. 

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The upcoming general election will pit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance against (mostly) different opposition groupings in various states, including of the Congress, Left and regional forces who are continuing to work out a grand alliance (mahagatbandhan) to minimise a division of votes between them which would work in favour of the Modi government.

The BJP has worked out a seat-sharing formula with some new allies and several old partners by making concessions in states like Bihar. The opposition parties however are yet to do so in several states.

The 2019 Lok Sabha elections are to be held over seven phases. The polling dates over the seven phases are April 11, April 18, April 23, May 6, May 12, and May 19. All votes will be counted on May 23. 

Assembly elections will also be held in Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Odisha simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said on Sunday while announcing the dates for the elections. 

He added that 90 crore voters would be eligible to vote, that 10 lakh polling stations would be set up, and that VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) machines would be used in all the stations. The VVPAT machines are used to detect election fraud. 

Arora added that the Election Commission's code of conduct would apply to social media, that all political advertisements on social media will need pre-certification and that all candidates for the elections will have to give the details of their social media accounts to the commission.

(With inputs from PTI)

Story highlights

Priyanka's brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi was also present at the rally in Gujarat's Gandhinagar which flagged off the Congress's campaign for the Lok Sabha elections but it was Priyanka who 'stole the show'.