The Congress general secretary, Ms. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was set to travel by boat in the Ganga from Allahabad to Varanasi on Monday, is now likely to undertake that journey later this month. Her boat ride is likely to bring into focus the claims of the Narendra Modi government’s ‘Namami Gange’ campaign. Congress sources said the postponement was because of unavoidable reasons.
According to party sources, Ms. Priyanka was to launch her concerted Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha poll campaign from Lucknow on Sunday. She was to meet block presidents from across the state that day. This is the second time her itinerary in UP has either been cancelled or postponed. Earlier this month, she was scheduled to visit Allahabad to take part in the Kumbh festival.
Ms. Priyanka is her party’s general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh east, and responsible for 40 of the state’s 80 Lok Sabha seats, including Allahabad and Varanasi. She was likely to travel from Allahabad to Varanasi in a double-decker boat through the river.
Varanasi is the constituency of the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi. On Wednesday, Ms. Priyanka met the Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad of the Bhim Army, who announced that he might contest against Mr. Modi as the candidate of the united opposition. Currently, the Congress is not part of the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party alliance in UP.
In Varanasi, Ms. Priyanka would visit the Dashashwamedh Ghat and Kashi Vishwanath temple. The Dashashwamedh Ghat is the main ghat on the Ganga in Varanasi and located close to the Kashi Vishwanath temple. She would also pay a visit to the family of a CRPF personnel killed in the Pulwama terror attack.
Namami Gange, or National Mission for Clean Ganga, is one of the flagship programmes of the Modi government. It was launched in June 2014 as an 'integrated conservation mission' with an initial budget outlay of Rs. 20,000 crore to 'accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of national river Ganga'.
Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, Ms. Priyanka’s father, had launched the Ganga Action Plan in Varanasi on June 14, 1986 as the Prime Minister.