I am Oppn enemy No. 1, says Sonia
AFTER THE “sacrifice”, the war cry. Sonia Gandhi stormed into her turf on Tuesday and took on her “adversaries” in a no-holds barred attack, setting the pitch for re-election. She said she was being subjected to the “same kind of treatment that her slain husband and mother-in-law had received at the hands of their critics”.
Sonia resigned from the Lok Sabha and the National Advisory Council last Sunday over the office of profit controversy. Without naming anyone in particular, she said the parties have now stopped speaking about “morality” and are harping on “cooperation” with the government on the law relating to the office of profit, apparently hinting they were ready for a legislation to protect their flock from being disqualified.
Addressing the huge gathering, she said: “I am the Opposition’s enemy number one and every stone is being hurled at me.” And the crowd reciprocated. “We will ensure that those who contest against her lose their deposit” was the general refrain.
Striking an emotional chord with her “would-be” voters, Sonia said she came straight to those who had sent her to the Lok Sabha after resigning.
“I am sure you will do justice and give them a befitting reply,” she said. Her canny political instincts could not be faulted as she recounted last week’s developments highlighting how the Opposition had changed colour. “See how they have changed their language. Now they are cooperating with each other to save their respective chairs.”
And if people’s reaction was anything to go by, Sonia managed to drive her point home. “All these people (read Opposition) obstructed her,: gushed an emotional Sarita Soni, a village housewife, who attended the rally. “We will send her back with a bigger majority,” she said.
Rae Bareli basked in the glow of Sonia's confidence. “She remembered Rae Bareli soon after stepping down. This should convey a message to others,” said Ram Bharose, a grassroots Congress worker. District Congress Committee president Uma Shankar Mishra pledged full support.
Earlier in the morning, she was accorded a warm welcome at the Amausi airport in Lucknow. Supporters mobbed her motorcade at very point along the 85-km stretch from Lucknow to Rae Bareli, taking her more than three hours to reach the venue. District boundaries blurred though senior leaders — including AICC general secretary Ashok Gehlot, UPCC president Salman Khurshid, minister of state for steel Akhilesh Das and several others — had to go back when Lucknow gave away to dusty Rae Bareli.
Sonia prayed at the Hanuman temple at Churua and interfaced with local leaders before addressing the rally. At the end of the day, she was almost put on a pedestal. Slogans of “Rae Bareli ka yeh tufan, badle saara Hindustan (Rae Bareilly’s storm will change India)”, “NDA walon hosh main aao, Sonia ji se na takrao (NDA come to your senses, don’t lock horns with Sonia)” and “Tyag ki andhi Sonia Gandhi (Sonia is the storm of sacrifice)” rent the air. The war had begun.