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HindustanTimes Fri,29 Aug 2014

Cong falls back on Gandhis to counter Modi onslaught

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi and Umesh Raghuvanshi , Hindustan Times  NEW DELHI/RAE BARELI, April 29, 2014
First Published: 00:24 IST(29/4/2014) | Last Updated: 00:29 IST(29/4/2014)

Lacking charismatic leaders with the firepower to match BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s show of strength, the Congress has fallen back on party chief Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi to step up the heat. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra too has shown unusual aggression, though she denied being spiteful while winding up her campaign in Rae Bareli on Monday.

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Congress sources said the failure of the second rung of leadership to effectively connect with the people put the entire campaign burden on the Gandhis. The party is banking solely on their mass appeal to boost the sagging morale of its workers in the ongoing “tough” elections.

To add to the party’s woes, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has kept a very low profile. Already on exit mode, he has restricted his campaign to only a few constituencies across the country. Other leaders, including general secretaries and chief ministers, have failed to make a mark.

“These leaders are not able to generate the same enthusiasm as Soniaji and Rahul do,” a senior Congress functionary said. “The impact is visible wherever the two go.”

Congress leaders point to Telangana where campaigning by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi charged up the party workers and given the party an edge over nearest rival Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). Their campaigns helped the party wrest credit from TRS for the creation of Telangana, to be declared a new state on June 2. 

On the other hand, Modi is getting assistance from senior leaders such as LK Advani, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj.

In Rae Bareli constituency that goes to polls on April 30, Priyanka blamed the opposition for making Mandate 2014 malicious. “Vitriol is not in me. It is in them,” she said after ending her 4km padyatra on the final day of campaigning.

She campaigned for her mother Sonia Gandhi who she said “will win by a huge margin” as would her brother Rahul from Amethi.


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