Rahul picks Nehru's seat for poll kick-off | lucknow | Hindustan Times
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Rahul picks Nehru's seat for poll kick-off

It is no coincidence that the Congress chose Phulpur and November 14 as the place and the date for starting its poll campaign for UP assembly elections in 2012. M Hasan reports.

lucknow Updated: Nov 15, 2011 14:46 IST
M Hasan

It is no coincidence that the Congress chose Phulpur and November 14 as the place and the date for starting its poll campaign for UP assembly elections in 2012.

Phulpur, 33 km from Allahabad, was the Lok Sabha constituency of Jawaharlal Nehru, great-grandfather of Rahul Gandhi, who by all reckoning will be the top Congress leader in the years to come.

And November 14, as is well-known, is Children's Day, Nehru's birth anniversary.

Even as the party prepares to retrieve lost ground in UP, where it lost power in 1989, the Congress strategically chose the town to revive the memory of the first Prime Minister of India, who died in 1964.

The people in Phulpur fondly remember him still. His name is associated with the fertilisers plant, set up by

Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd, in the town. Nehru had promised the farmers an industrial unit that would be beneficial to them. Later Indira Gandhi, as PM, established it. Another important gift from the Nehru-Gandhi family was the Motilal Nehru farmers' training centre.

With caste politics taking centre stage in the state over the past two decades, the Congress lost relevance in Phulpur, where it had won a parliamentary election last during the Rajiv Gandhi wave in 1984.

For the past 27 years, the Congress' performance has been dismal in the constituency.

And symptomatic of the degeneration has been the election of Atique Ahmad, who had won in 2004 but is in jail now on criminal charges.

Senior Congress leader of Allahabad Abhay Awasthi told HT: "We are remembering Nehru and supporting Rahul."

Hoardings and posters in Allahabad also indicate the Congress has now decided to project Rahul Gandhi as the inheritor of Nehru's legacy.

"There would not have been a better place than Phulpur to launch the battle against rampant corruption and take the state out of two decades of backwardness," said another Congress leader Shekhar Bahuguna.