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12 Feb 2017

Rahul hits back at 'peeping' PM - Allies take on Modi over raincoat, horoscope, joke and clan jibes as polls kick off

Piyush Srivastava, TT, Lucknow, Feb. 11: Rahul Gandhi today said Narendra Modi was more interested in "peeping" into other people's bathrooms than doing his job, hitting back at the Prime Minister during a media conference he addressed jointly with Akhilesh Yadav.
"I believe Narendra Modiji is fond of reading the janam patri (life history) of people, surfing Google and peeping into others' bathrooms. He can do this during his free time in the evening. But the main job of the Prime Minister is to address the issues of employment, national security and farmers' problems," the Congress vice-president said.
Modi had triggered outrage with his remark in Parliament that only his predecessor Manmohan Singh knew the art of taking a bath with a raincoat on. Yesterday, he warned Congress leaders protesting against him to hold their tongue because he had their entire " janam patri". He also ridiculed Rahul as the leader against whom a Google search would show up the "maximum jokes".
"He is free to dig into the Congress party record... do it, you are the Prime Minister of the country for the last two-and-a-half years. Keep bringing out our janam patri. We have no problem with this," Rahul said today.
If Rahul hit back at the three jibes, Akhilesh decided to answer Modi's charge that the Congress-Samajwadi alliance was "an alliance of two clans". "One clan comes from Saifai," the Prime Minister had said, referring to Akhilesh's native village in Uttar Pradesh, "and the other from Delhi."
The chief minister responded: "It is not an alliance of two clans. It is an alliance of two youths who want to bring positive changes in the state."
Rahul said Modi was anxious that his party would lose. "The Prime Minister has realised that a Congress and Samajwadi Party government is coming to power in Uttar Pradesh. He will receive a jolt after seeing the result. His credibility would be questioned. This is the reason he is nervous," he said.
Modi had failed to deliver on his promise of creating jobs and ensuring national security, the Congress vice-president said. "Modiji had promised two crore jobs. But last year he gave employment to only one lakh youths," he said. "Over 90 soldiers have died in Kashmir".
Rahul dominated the stage although it was a joint media conference, and Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala conducted the question-and-answer session.
The allies released a common programme - Pragati Ke 10 Kadam - that also underlined that they were committed to taking these 10 steps towards growth.
Surjewala requested Rahul to read out the 10 points, but the Congress leader asked Akhilesh to do it. "I had started in the last press conference in Lucknow (on January 29). So today I want Akhilesh to start," Rahul said.
"It is good that the tradition of pehle aap (you first) continues in Lucknow," Akhilesh replied, referring to the legendary courtesy of the former Awadh royals.
Reading out from the common programme, he said: "We will provide smartphones to youths and impart training to 20 lakh for self-employment. Loans of farmers would be waived, the rate of electricity to them would be reduced and adequate support price would be given for their produce."
Some questions at the news conference were addressed to both leaders and some to Akhilesh only. While Akhilesh left many questions for Rahul to answer, the Congress leader answered some lobbed at the chief minister.
Asked about the possibility of continuing their alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Rahul said their focus was Uttar Pradesh.
"This is an alliance between youths. It is also an alliance with a shared vision. We have not come here simply to come to power in Uttar Pradesh. We have come here to transform Uttar Pradesh.... For me this is a partnership and this is about shared ideas," Rahul said.
"My answer is the same," Akhilesh said.
One reporter told both leaders that a negative message had gone out among voters because there were over a dozen seats where both parties were contesting. "I request you to sort out the problem to win elections," the reporter said.
"Thank you for your suggestion," Akhilesh replied.
Then Rahul picked up the microphone and said: "I want to answer this question. There may be some problems in a few seats. But our alliance is intact in 99 per cent seats. Our coordination is excellent."

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