New Delhi October 3rd
Union Minister Smriti Irani this afternoon attacked Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who will make his second attempt in three days to visit Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras amid outrage over the alleged gang rape and murder of a 20-year-old woman.
“People are aware of Congress’s tactics… That’s why they ensured a historic win for the BJP in 2019 elections,” the BJP leader told reporters today.
“I cannot stop a leader in a democratic nation but people understand that their visit to Hathras is for their politics and not for justice to the victim,” she added.
Unhappy with her comments, some Congress workers tried to stop her car in Varanasi and were heard chanting slogans: “Smriti Irani go back” and “we seek justice”. Several party workers were later detained.
Earlier today, Mr Gandhi tweeted in Hindi: “No power in the world can stop me from meeting this grieving family and sharing their pain.” He and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are likely to visit Hathras this afternoon to meet the victim’s family.
While the village’s borders were opened this morning after 48 hours, a senior official said that only reporters are allowed. “Rahul Gandhi is not allowed… currently the arrival of any political party leader is banned,” Hathras Joint Magistrate Prem Prakash Meena told news agency ANI, adding, “When orders come to allow delegations, we will let everybody know.”
On Thursday both Mr Gandhi and Mrs Gandhi Vadra were stopped in UP’s Greater Noida (near Delhi) and briefly taken into custody. Mr Gandhi was manhandled and pushed to the ground by the cops in that tussle, prompting indignation at the UP government’s handling of opposition leaders.
However, Ms Irani, who defeated Rahul Gandhi in Congress’s stronghold – Amethi – last year in Lok Sabha elections, today said that Yogi Adityanath government will ensure justice for the victim’s family. The brutality to the woman, who belonged to the Scheduled Castes, and the post-midnight funeral by the police has triggered a widespread outrage.