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People sense return of Indira raj

"It's the beginning of the end of the Maya raaj," said Banarasi saree weaver Momin Ansari, 35, on Thursday.

india Updated: May 20, 2011 01:45 IST
Anuraag Singh

"It's the beginning of the end of the Maya raaj," said Banarasi saree weaver Momin Ansari, 35, on Thursday.

Ansari, who lives in the weaver-dominated Peeli Peeli Kothi area of the city, came with his two children to listen to Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday.

Braving the sweltering heat, Ansari and the children waited for two hours for Gandhi's speech to start. Once the speech began, the children got on their father's shoulder to catch a glimpse of the Congress chief, saying " Soniaji humare liye khushhali laayengi (Soniaji will bring welfare for us)."

Despite having to stand in the scorching sun, the public rally, marking the culmination of the two-day Congress state convention, swelled with people from not only Varanasi but other parts of eastern UP as well. Remarked Shiv Chowdhary, 78, a veteran Congress worker from Ballia district of East UP: "Lagta hai Indiraji ka zamana ab phir pradesh mein vapas ayega 2012 mein" (it seems Indira Gandhi's era is set to return to UP during 2012).

Of the four sons of Chowdhary, one is with the BJP and the other with the SP now. "Once back in Ballia, I'll narrate stories of this rally and ask them to return to the Congress to join their two other brothers."

Reena Mishra, Congress worker from Chandauli district of eastern UP, tightly held the party flag. "I could not make it to the rally of Soniaji during the 2009 electioneering, but have finally made it this time. Last time when Soniaji addressed the rally, the Congress could not win the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat, but this time the public mood, despite the sultry weather, indicates the future rise of the Congress in Purvanchal."

Purvanchal, once the citadel of the Congress, now sends only four Congress MLAs and one backed by the party to the UP assembly, out of its quota of 147.

Rabia, whose departed husband, Abdul Kalam, represented the Varanasi North assembly twice on the SP ticket, won a bypoll after her husband's death, also on the SP ticket. However, when she was denied nomination by the party in 2007, she contested as a rebel and finished a creditable third in the Muslim-dominated city seat.

One of her supporters forming part of big mobike procession said Rabia was now backing the Congress and would hold sway in minority pockets of Varanasi.