AS CONGRESS president Sonia Gandhi entered the Bharat Mata Mandir here, what greeted her was ‘Vande Mataram’ inscribed on the temple’s main gate.
As she moved ahead, there was a ‘Vande Mataram’ signboard hanging low enough to merit a glance from the Congress chief. The freshly painted temple had Vande Mataram written at many places, as if echoing the recent row over the national song.
But before Sonia hurried of to take part in the district level central vigilance and monitoring committee meeting, she left behind a strong political message by paying floral tributes to the Bharat Mata.
Sonia’s Saturday gesture will go a long way in silencing the BJP, which had questioned her credentials after she did not turn up for the Congress’ September 7 Vande Mataram show.
Local leaders said Sonia was upset over the Vande Mataram controversy and she readily accepted the request to visit the Bharat Mata Mandir in her constituency.
She also visited the local Shahid Smarak to pay tributes to those who had laid down their lives for the nation. This was not the only place where Sonia paid tributes to the martyrs. She unveiled the statue of founder of the Gandhi Vidyalaya and freedom fighter Munshi Chandrika Prasad alias Guruji at Bachhrawan.
Her visit to the ‘kardam’ tree also an emotional one for the Congress leader as its sapling had been planted by her husband Rajiv Gandhi on September 12, 1987.
Though this was Sonia’s first programme in Rae Bareli city, the Congress chief would be visiting various areas as well during her two-day stay in the constituency.
After these public engagements, Sonia back to her political self – taking on the Mulayam Singh Yadav Government.
At the district level central vigilance and monitoring committee meeting, Sonia expressed her displeasure about the poor quality of roads being constructed under Central Road Fund in her constituency.
A committee of technical experts should be constituted to ensure the quality of CRF roads Sonia told the meeting. Sonia said the committee should be on the pattern of the panel that overlooks the quality of the roads constructed under the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana.
Her concern for the quality of roads was obvious. For the construction of 14 roads, Rs 133 crore was being spent from the CRF.
Sonia also aired her unhappiness at the pace at which handpumps were being installed under the Swajal project. Officers pointed out that the NGO implementing the project probably failed to motivate villagers about the benefits of the scheme.
The State Government might initiate action against the NGO and assign the job to some other group.