Amid loud cheers from supporters and a ‘victory song’ blaring on loudspeakers, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav held the ‘UP Vijay Rath’ yatra here on Friday evening.
The roadshow began from Dayalbagh, famous for the Radhasoami sect, almost an hour behind schedule because of the delayed arrival of Rahul Gandhi from Delhi by air. The yatra began within minutes of his reaching Dayalbagh at 4.20 pm.
Both leaders waved from atop the campaign vehicle that travelled past large crowds of supporters.
Interestingly, some BJP supporters shouted pro-Modi slogans as the rally began from Dayalbagh, which is part of the Agra North constituency represented by BJP.
The rath had images of the Congress’s ‘hand’, SP’s ‘bicycle’, Rahul-Akhilesh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, symbolizing the Congress-SP alliance.
This is the first joint poll campaign by Rahul-Akhilesh in western UP that goes to poll in the first phase on February 11.
Dayal Bagh is famous because of its association with Radhasoami sect of believers. UP Congress committee chief Raj Babbar -- a two-time MP from Agra on the SP ticket -- had credited his victory to the Radhasaomi sect. Dayalbagh also has an educational institute (DEI) that is quite popular among youths.
After the start, the rath headed for Bhagwan Talkies crossing, a busy intersection on NH-2 part of Kanpur-Delhi highway. Bhagwan Talkies has been among the oldest cinema halls of the city. Then it went to Deewani Chauraha, civil court area and Sur Sadan, covering 12 kilometres. The rally also passed through Wazirpur, a Muslim-dominated locality, Hari Parvat, Agra’s busiest crossing, Chipitola, the oldest scrap market in the city and Bijligarh crossing. The road show concluded at Agra fort.
Supporters welcomed the leaders with flower petals and selfies.
The road show had been planned so as to cover three urban constituencies: Agra North, Agra South and Agra Cantonment. Of the nine assembly constituencies in the district, six are rural and three urban.
BSP dominates Agra as it has six of the total nine seats, while BJP holds two urban seats. SP has only one seat which Aridaman Singh had won in 2012. But this time, he has defected to the BJP and his wife Pakshalika Singh is contesting the seat. The Congress has none.