Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s absence from canvassing has made son and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi emerge as the party’s sole lead campaigner for Mandate 2017 in Uttar Pradesh.
Rahul addressed about 50 public meetings for Congress candidates, the last one in Jaunpur on Monday. He also had four joint roadshows and four public meetings with UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav for the Congress-Samajwadi Party alliance.
Sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra worked behind the scenes to fine-tune the list of Congress candidates, the party’s poll strategy and seal the alliance with SP. But this is the first time that Rahul has shouldered campaign responsibility, remaining the party’s only lead face across UP.
Rahul teamed up with Akhilesh for the first roadshow and public meeting in Lucknow on January 29. Their joint appearance was in Varanasi on March 4. Rahul also addressed two press conferences with him to launch the joint campaign and the common minimum programme for the alliance.
While Rahul focused on farmers, youth and the poor, his main target of attack was Prime Minister Narendra Modi for demonetisation, “taking recourse to politics of hatred” and failure to keep promises of creating jobs.
Rahul had to, for the first time, lead the Congress’ poll campaign in the Nehru-Gandhi family bastions of Rae Bareli and Amethi where Priyanka used to take charge earlier.
This time, Priyanka addressed only one meeting in Bachhrawan (reserved for SC), an assembly segment of her mother’s Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat. Rahul led the party from the front before announcement of elections too. He led the month-long Deoria-Delhi Kisan Yatra (September-October 2016) and went door to door asking farmers to fill up ‘mang patras’ (forms) demanding waiver of their loans.