An otherwise sleepy city, Phulpur was plastered with posters and banners of Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders on Monday. Nehru figured prominently in the publicity material and so did Sonia Gandhi.
Among the several thousands gathered at the Railway Grounds on the city's outskirts in Jhusi was Gulabi gang leader Sampat Pal who has been given a Congress ticket. Pal had shot into limelight following her crusade against wife beaters. A group of men and women opposed to Pal's ways had also come to the venue in the hope that they would meet Gandhi and urge him to withdraw the ticket given to her.
A group of Asha women workers who help rural women in deliveries were at the meeting venue to hand over a memorandum highlighting the corruption prevailing in the release of funds to pregnant women who hardly get half of the Rs 1400 grant. "The rest is gobbled up by officials," said their president Suman Lata Sahu.
Vishwanath Prasad Misra, 75, said after listening to Gandhi's impassioned speech that it was not Phulpur alone, but the entire state was crying for development. "He (Gandhi) appeared sincere. If he succeeds, not only Phulpur but the entire state will be on the road to development."
Not all of Gandhi's audience was politically motivated. A number of young people from adjoining areas had come only to get a closer view of the Congress general secretary.
"When will you wake up? I want an answer!" thundered Gandhi, to which the response rang out loud and clear, "Rahul Tum Sangharsh Karo, Hum Tumhare Saath Hain! (Rahul, take the lead, we are with you!).