In Rae Bareli, she is ?queen of hearts?
CONGRESS PRESIDENT Sonia Gandhi conquered the hearts of people on Tuesday. It was her first visit to the constituency since her resignation from the posts of MP and National Advisory Council chairperson.
If the crowd's response were to be viewed in the backdrop of events that preceded her visit, it was clear that Sonia had been able to make her point.
"Though people caused obstructions in Sonia's way, we will send her back to the Lok Sabha with a bigger margin,” said a villager, Sarita Soni, who had come to take part in the rally.
“Sonia's adversaries will have to eat humble pie now,” she added.
Others were happy because Sonia expressed confidence in the people of Rae Bareli. “She remembered Rae Bareli even though she had resigned,” said Ram Bharose. “This will give others a message,” he added, pointing towards the crowd. While welcoming Sonia at the rally, District Congress Committee president Uma Shankar Mishra assured that her adversaries would be given a befitting reply. Sonia, too, probably wanted to convey the same message. This became evident from the manner in which she concluded her speech, “Hamari jung jari rahegi. karvan badhta rahega," she said, summing up her address.
On their part, people raised slogans glorifying her “act of sacrifice.”
“Rae Bareli ka yeh tufan, badle saara Hindustan (Rae Bareli's storm will change India) was among the many popular slogans that were raised. Some others shouted, “NDA walon hosh main aao, Soniaji se na takrao” and “Tyag ki andhi Sonia Gandhi”.
Sonia was accorded a warm welcome at the Amausi airport when she reached Lucknow earlier in the morning.
As she proceeded from Amausi airport to Rae Bareli, the crowds continued to swell. Slogans in her favour got louder.
At every point she stopped, her cavalcade got longer with more vehicles joining it. Special 'pandals' and welcome arches were erected all along the way and people showered rose petals. Many preferred to garland her, while others were happy just waving. As a result, the motorcade took more three hours to cover nearly 85 km.
How did the Congress make the Sonia show successful? Sources said Congress leaders from other places wanted to lend a helping hand.
Sonia, however, insisted on local participation and the entire management of the show was left to local party units, along with her representatives KL Sharma and Manoj Mattu.
The popular mood that prevailed following her resignation may have helped the Congressmen in mobilising the crowd at their pandals in Lucknow. There was an equally good response on roadsides.
District boundaries made no difference to the support she got, though senior leaders like AICC general secretary Ashok Gehlot, UPCC president Salman Khurshid and Union Minister of State for Steel Akhilesh Das had to go back when boundaries of Lucknow district ended and people from Rae Bareli took over.
After entering Rae Bareli, Sonia went to the Hanuman temple at Churua.
Thereafter, she met some local leaders. On way to the constituency, the response from the crowd was overwhelming. Slogan-shouting continued right up to the GIC Grounds, where Sonia addressed the public rally.
A festive look prevailed with all main streets and markets displaying the Congress tricolour.