Dismissing suggestions that the Congress will cut into votes of the SP-BSP-RLD alliance, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday said her party has fielded candidates either with prospects of victory or having potential to damage the BJP's chances.
Asked whether she was afraid of contesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi, the Congress general secretary said she was not scared at all and that she joined politics "for good".
"If Priyanka Gandhi gets scared, she will sit at home and not do politics. I am in politics for good and will be there," she said.
The Congress general secretary in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh also hit out at the BJP for what she called its "obsession" with the Gandhi family when the focus should be on solving people's problems.
On the political landscape in Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka said, "We have carefully chosen candidates so that either Congress wins or they cut into BJP's votes. Congress is not at all cutting into votes of the 'UP gathbandhan'."
Priyanka was talking to the media during her campaign trail in Amethi where her brother Rahul Gandhi is seeking re-election.
The Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) forged an alliance months before the Lok Sabha polls, but kept out the Congress as there was no agreement on seat-sharing.
According to political observers, the anti-BJP vote could get split between the Congress and the UP alliance, benefitting BJP.
"This is not a preparation for (assembly polls) in UP in 2022. This is about defeating BJP in 2019," she said, adding, "Congress party is weak in UP we need to strengthen it here. I am working towards it."
Sharply reacting on her comments, BJP's national spokesperson Sambit Patra said, "The Congress party is not contesting elections to win but to cut into votes of BJP. Today the grand old party has become a vote katua party."
'Vote katua' is a term used for those candidates who may not come out victorious but may tilt the electoral balance in the favour of one of the two main contestants.
Asked whether Rahul Gandhi will become the prime minister, Priyanka said, "My brother will prove to be a good prime minister. Whether he will become the prime minister or not, the public has to decide."
On the row surrounding Rahul Gandhi's citizenship, she said, "This is a baseless issue which is being raked up, and the need is to focus on problems of the people."
Priyanka said there was no leader like her brother Rahul Gandhi as he listens to people and tries to resolve their problems.
"BJP is obsessed with Gandhi family. When we come here we do not talk about our family. We talk about problems of people, but they target our family in half of their speeches," said Priyanka.
On the decision of her not being fielded from Varanasi, she said if she had contested from the temple town, she would have been confined to only one constituency.
"I am not dejected that I am not contesting from Varanasi. I wanted to campaign and strengthen Congress in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Had I contested from Varanasi I would have got confined to Varanasi alone and would not have been able to work for strengthening the party," she said.
"There is a lot of work to do in eastern Uttar Pradesh and we have to defeat the BJP in Uttar Pradesh and strengthen the Congress," she said.
The Congress fielded Ajay Rai from Varanasi, ending weeks of speculations that the constituency may witness a blockbuster contest between Modi and Priyanka.
"I am not fighting elections or campaigning for myself...I have a lot of work to do here and every Congress candidate wants me to campaign for them," she said.
"I had said in the beginning that if the party wants me to contest (from Varanasi), then I am ready and would go by the party's decision," she added.
Training her guns on the BJP, Priyanka alleged that the government at the Centre has not given "nyay" (justice) to people.
"People are harassed. This government has lost the trust of the people who voted them on hopes which have been dashed," she added.
"You have to understand their niyat (intention) and neeti (policy). They have done nothing to solve the menace of stray cattle. Gaushalas are yet to be set up," she said.
Priyanka also took a swipe at government over the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, under which a farmer will get Rs 6,000 annually, saying it's "a kisan apman (insult) yojana".
The Congress general secretary attacked Union minister and BJP candidate from Amethi constituency Smriti Irani.
"By distributing shoes, she has insulted people of Amethi...They say that there is parivarwaad (dynastic politics), but this is the love of the people of Amethi, which our family is getting...When I was 12-year-old, I had seen barren land, and I remember my father seeking your support, and today there is greenery," she said and referred to various works done by her father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and by her brother Rahul Gandhi.
The Salon assembly segment in Rae Bareli district falls under the Amethi parliamentary constituency. Amethi and Rae Bareli will vote on May 6 in the fifth phase.
The BJP had won a whopping 71 seats out of 80 in Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.