Priyanka makes the difference | india | Hindustan Times
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Priyanka makes the difference

THE VOTER turnout in Rae Bareli compared to last time was low, so oppressive was the heat outside. Yet 42 per cent people came out to exercise their franchise on Monday. And a lot of them happened to meet Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was there in her new role as Congress president Sonia Gandhi?s poll agent, slogging it out at polling booths spread across the constituency. The hot and humid conditions never seemed to bother her.

india Updated: May 09, 2006 01:36 IST

Sweats it out in the open; Katiyar keeps himself cool in AC room

THE VOTER turnout in Rae Bareli compared to last time was low, so oppressive was the heat outside. Yet 42 per cent people came out to exercise their franchise on Monday. And a lot of them happened to meet Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was there in her new role as Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s poll agent, slogging it out at polling booths spread across the constituency. The hot and humid conditions never seemed to bother her.

This precisely was the difference between Congress and other parties if one takes into account the commitment shown by them on the polling day on Monday.

On the flipside was Bharatiya Janata Party nominee and its firebrand leader Vinay Katiyar, who spent the better part of the day in his air-conditioned room in a local hotel that doubled up as the party election office also.

This came to light when mediapersons on being unable to locate Katiyar in the constituency tried to get in touch with him on the telephone. Katiyar’s aide answered the calls and said the leader was touring the constituency. Some journalists, however, chose to go to the hotel. They soon discovered that Katiyar was much there, relaxing in his air-conditioned hotel room for most part of the day. 

Katiyar even chatted with media persons and demanded that the by-poll be countermanded as it had been reduced to be a battle between two governments —  the Congress-led UPA at the Centre and the SP-led coalition in UP.

After the Congress, if at all any other party was able to make its presence felt in the constituency, it was the Samajwadi Party. At least one could spot its polling camps. For Uma Bharti sponsored Apna Dal, the least said the better on this count.

And here was Priyanka, moving from one booth to another, trying hard to ensure that Sonia Gandhi wins with a record margin.

“We always make records in Rae Bareli and Amethi,” said a confident Priyanka.
And she made sure nothing went amiss. She took count of the complaints of electronic voting machines (EVMs) malfunction, took some officials to task when a local Samajwadi Party worker Sheela Singh was seen taking some voters to a polling booth and met Election Commission observer Ashish Kundra in Maharajganj under Bachhrawan assembly segment.

Priyanka informed the observer that an SDM and a presiding officer in Maharajganj were not allowing genuine voters to cast their votes.  Before taking up the issue with EC observer, Priyanka also went to the presiding officer and asked him not be unfair. Asked if the district administration was unfair, Priyanka said “I don’t care.”

As a long convoy of media persons followed Priyanka, district magistrate Jitendra Kumar to everybody’s surprise advised them to divide their time equally among all the candidates or else it would amount to violation of model code of conduct. Kumar even instructed his staff to check that all the media persons had valid passes. It was on his instructions that policemen stopped media persons carrying valid passes again and again.

And what did Priyanka have to say on this: “The best is to ignore them. Don’t take their pix.” Ready solution that.