The Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party fought bitterly on Wednesday in this Dalit-dominated district on Dr B R Ambedkar's 119th birthday. The reason: the assembly elections are only two years away.
Gandhi flagged off 10 rathyatras to cover the 403 assembly segments in 90 days, while UP Chief Minister and BSP chief Mayawati went on an aerial survey of the BSP celebrations of Ambedkar's birthday in different parts of the state.
Mayawati began her bombardment by accusing the Con-gress of ensuring the defeat of Dr Ambedkar in the Lok Sabha elections in 1952 and denying him the Bharat Ratna till 1990.
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi retorted by lambasting Mayawati's government for not implementing the Centre's schemes for those she claimed to represent.
"We send thousands of crores to Uttar Pradesh. Funds do reach Lucknow, but do not reach Ambedkar Nagar or any other district," Gandhi said.
When he said he did not know where the money is going, the crowd shouted lustily, "For making garlands."
The Congress decided to launch its campaign from Ambedkar Nagar – Mayawati's constituency in 1998, 1999 and 2004. And Gandhi began his address only after garlanding the pictures of Mahatama Gandhi and Ambedkar.
Earlier, the district administration did not allow the garlanding of Ambedkar's statue at the venue, as BSP leaders, including three state ministers, held demonstration within 300 metres of the statue.
Gandhi said, "We were slow but steady as we began our work in UP. They used to laugh at us. Even newspapers did not make the right projections."
But he said the Congress surprised everyone with its performance in the Lok Sabha elections.