With growing confidence in her oratorical abilities, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has begun to vary her campaign style.
In Faizabad, 140 km east of the capital, for instance, on Sunday, she embarked upon an interactive session with her audience at the rally, usually associated with flamboyant speakers like Railway Minister Lalu Prasad or Gujarat CM Narendra Modi. She asked a series of rhetorical questions, the answers to each one being the same: “The Congress”.
“Who brought the country Independence?” she asked. “Who industrialised the nation? Who ushered in the Green Revolution? Who nationalised the banks?” She continued to list the Congress governments’ achievements across the years, right down to the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. The crowd roared back the answer she wanted every time.
Thereafter followed her usual broadsides against the BJP, and indeed all non-Congress governments in UP of the last two decades which, she maintained, had kept the state backward.
In Lucknow, apart from attacking the BJP, she was unusually critical of the ruling BSP as well, accusing it of wooing the very communities it had once vilified, simply to grab power. “Kuch vargo ke khilaf apshabdon ka prayog kar rajniti karne wali BSP ab usi ko shield bana kar satta pana chah rahi hai (The BSP which used abusive language against some sections in the past has now made them its shield to embrace power),” she said, referring to the BSP’s much discussed strategy of wooing forward castes to add to its Dalit vote.
Neither did she spare the Samajwadi Party. “They are not sure who their friends are, and who their foes,” she said. “They can be friends and foes with the same group simultaneously.”