Congress era dawns again

PTI | ByHindol Sengupta (Indo-Asian News Service), New Delhi
May 15, 2004 03:38 PM IST

Sonia Gandhi's house looks like a lost phoenix slowly rising from the ashes of past defeats, under the leadership of a woman who was written off by critics.

With scores of colourful banners, giant drums and wildly cheering party workers, the mood outside Congress president Sonia Gandhi's residence is that of a carnival.

HT Image
HT Image

Crowds in white hand-spun cotton, traditional uniform of the Congress, shouted slogans praising Gandhi outside the white washed colonial bungalow on Saturday as the 57-year-old, Italy-born seemed poised to become the next prime minister.

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"The Gandhi name lives on. A great victory for the Congress, long live Sonia Gandhi," said one blue on white banner held aloft by a group of elderly Congress workers in dhotis and kurtas.

Beside them, rolling two giant drums on wheels was a throng of male musicians from Rajasthan in red and yellow turbans and traditional chunky earrings.

"We are very proud," said Bhim Singh, stroking his white moustache. "My family has been Congress supporters for the last 50 years, we believe in the Gandhis."

If the skies above 10 Janpath are replete with Congress tricolour flags and open palm insignia, the party's election symbol, below, the glistening tar on the road is chock-a-block with red and white bits of burst crackers in their hundreds, the celebrations have been furious.

It is clear that the party has not stopped here from the time Gandhi led the Congress back to the road to power on May 13 after six years.

Police in khaki man multiple barricades as the crowds swell even in the burning Delhi summer.

"Don't worry, now that we are back, everything will be okay," a Congress leader told someone smilingly as he emerged from an air-conditioned car.

Beside a giant grey inflated balloon in the shape of the 'Congress hand', vendors sell posters and banners of Indira Gandhi, Sonia, Rajiv, and the young siblings, Rahul and Priyanka.

Everything from badges with mug shots to audiocassettes is available and business is brisk, everyone wants to be seen with one.

But for now, the house, like a long lost phoenix, is slowly rising from the ashes of past defeats, under the leadership of a woman who was written off dozens of times.

"People want to be Congress again," smiled Rajni, a poster vendor who wore the white cloth cap once sported by innumerable Congressmen as an integral part of the country's freedom struggle, including Indira Gandhi's father, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister.

"The day of the palm has dawned again."

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