Gorakhpur/Lucknow: The Congress is seeking to counter NaMo chai with RaGa (Rahul Gandhi) milk.
A week after BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi held a 'Chai Chaupal' and interacted with people at 1,000 places in the country, Congress leaders here have begun to sell milk in an one-upmanship campaign.
On Monday, a handful of Congress activists in Gorakhpur gave away free milk to passersby in paper cups with a picture of party vice president Rahul Gandhi embossed on it. The distribution was done at Golghar in Gorakhpur, a major political hub in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi. File Pic
Both Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Modi have addressed political rallies in the region in the last one month.
Gorakhpur district Congress president Sayyed Jamaal says they have now decided to take on Modi in every possible way.
"For now, the Rahul milk would be distributed in Gorakhpur city. But we have discussed the issue with block level leaders and very soon 50 litres of milk a day would be distributed at every block," he said.
Congress leaders say their message to the elctorate is clear: as tea was not good for health, "Modi is not good for the country's health".
The district unit refuted charges of aping the BJP tea campaign and says they want to show that Congressmen are battle ready ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
While most senior Congress leaders in the state refused to comment on the RaGa milk, they privately conceded that the idea seemed bright.
The party is waiting to assess the reception the RaGa milk gets. Based on that, they will try to spread the campaign in other parts of Uttar Pradesh.
Not to be left behind is the ruling Samajwadi Party, which refuses to miss any chance to take potshots at Modi, the "chai walla".
The party, whose Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Agarwal declared that "tea vendors cannot be allowed to become PM", has begun roping in tea vendors to promote its 'Desh Bacha, Desh Banao' (Save the country, Make the country) rallies to be addressed by party leaders.
Invitations were extended to the common people for the recently held party rally in Gorakhpur through tea kiosks.
Rajendra Chowdhary, the state spokesman of the party and the Uttar Pradesh prisons minister, however, said they were not following Modi in any way.
"Modi is a mass murderer of Muslims and there is no way we can follow him," he said.
He said some overzealous party supporters might have put up some tea stalls.
BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak called such moves by the Congress and the Samajwadi Party as "copycat measures".
"For us discussions over tea are a way to understand the problems of the people while for them it is a political gimmick," he added.