In her first election rally in Telangana after passage of the statehood bill for the region in Parliament in February, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi claimed full credit for creation of India’s 29th state at a rally in this district on Wednesday.
Voting in Telangana on April 30 for the Lok Sabha and the Andhra Pradesh assembly will largely be connected to the statehood issue.
Appropriately enough, the rally was held at the Ambedkar stadium, which was the venue where Gandhi made a commitment to form the Telangana state during the 2009 election campaign.
“Your dream of 60 years is now a reality. The Congress heard your voice,” she said in Hindi, describing the creation of Telangana as a success of the people and her party.
Gandhi’s rally was a resounding success. Not only was the stadium filled to its capacity of 50,000 while thousands of others gathered outside to hear and see her speak live on large TV screens mounted for those who were not allowed in after the stadium was filled.
The curiosity to see Gandhi was not confined to Congress supports. Even people backing the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) came from 30-40 km away to see her.
Said real estate agent Ramesh Reddy, “I will vote for TRS but I wanted to see Sonia Gandhi. So, I came here from Peddapalli (35 km from Karimnagar).
How much of the visible excitement will translate into votes for the Congress in Telangana, which has 17 Lok Sabha seats, remains to be seen because the TRS has neither merged or allied with the party in this region and has been claiming credit for creation of the separate state.
Gandhi, who promised a mega power plant and national project status to the Pranahita-Chevella irrigation project in Telangana, tried to pacify agitated tempers in Seemandhra, which has 25 seats in the Lok Sabha, by promising “justice” there.