The Congress campaign for the Himachal Pradesh assembly elections began on not so impressive note even as its party chief Sonia Gandhi addressed a rally in Mandi on Monday.
Even as the rally was tipped to be of party supporters of 10 assembly segments from Mandi district, the party leaders faced a great difficulty to fill Paddal ground, the venue for the rally. The considerable area of the ground was lying vacant when Sonia Gandhi landed in a chopper.
Before this, anxiety due to lack of ample gathering was clearly visible on face of the state leaders, especially Himachal Congress chief Virbhadra Singh. Only few minutes before the arrival of Sonia Gandhi, an upset Virbhadra lashed out at Congress Sewa Dal workers and asked them to manage make people sit in the rally venue. "Tamashbin mat baniye….harkat main aayiye (Don't be spectators… be active and start working," Virbhadra said through public address system.
The lack of enthusiasm in the rally of the national leader was also palpable though the supporters were charged up by Sonia Gandhi when she raised slogans like Congress Zindabad and Jai Hind at the end of her speech.
The rally was also marred by lack of management with no proper speeches of local leaders planned before the arrival of the Congress chief.
The official party candidates from all 10 assembly segments of Mandi district refrained from coming to the dais, in view of the threat of the election commission about including the expenditure of the rally in the candidate's account if a he delivers a speech.