Tens of thousands of people lined up the 40-km route from the Amhat (Sultanpur) air strip to Collectorate in Gauriganj, showering about 300kg rose petals on Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and turning his nomination paper-filing exercise for Amethi into a victory procession of sorts.
The entire Gandhi clan – mother Sonia, sister Priyanka, brother-in-law Robert Vadra and niece Miraya – and family friend Captain Satish Sharma accompanied a smiling Rahul as he walked to the returning officer’s office and filed four sets of papers.
Priyanka was seen briefing her daughter, probably about the nomination process. Since Miraya, along with her brother Rehan, had campaigned for Rahul with some local kids during the 2009 elections, many locals were thrilled to see her again. “See, she is taller now,” a woman said.
Earlier, Rahul and Priyanka waved back to the slogan-shouting residents, who had been waiting on roadsides for nearly two hours. Both of them threw around garlands and flowers and shook hands with the people while sitting on the top of their vehicle.
The Gandhis arrived in different aircraft and landed at different locations for security reasons. Sonia, Rahul and Captain Satish Sharma landed in a private chopper at Amhat while Priyanka, Robert and Miraya landed at Fursa-tganj (Amethi).
Rahul is seeking his third term from Amethi. Though the locals are frustrated over the poor pace of development, the emotional connect is too strong to break. Typically, the discussion here revolves around the victory margin and not victory per se.