Out to win hearts, votes
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra chose Gauriganj assembly segment of brother Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's Amethi parliamentary constituency to launch her charms offensive. The reason? Gauriganj voted BSP MLA Chandra Prakash Matiyari to power in 2007 assembly polls.
Hinting that she may not move beyond the family turf for now, as she had mentioned at an earlier meeting, Vadra told reporters at Jamon, "I have been asked to look after the 10 assembly constituencies of Amethi and Rae Bareli, and I am doing that".
On day one of her five-day tour, the Congress's star campaigner asked people to vote for change in the state where politics over the last 22 years had become "religion and caste-based". Vadra covered 160 km, stopped at over 60 places and addressed 11 meetings, all in Gauriganj.
And while she wore her smile all day long, even when old men addressed her as "bhaiyaji", Vadra gently reprimanded voters. "You did not pay heed to my request in 2007. You had to suffer for the past five years. The MLA is constructing a big bungalow. The situation is bad here." She added, "Vote for change. Not for Rahul or the Congress, but for the future of your children."
Vadra spoke of an old temple near the meeting ground at Pindara. "I used to come here as a child. Now I have two children. They go to good schools. But the children here do not have good schools. When I come here after 22 years from now, my children would have got good jobs, but these children will be here only." Asked who was the bigger enemy, Mulayam Singh Yadav or Mayawati, Vadra named corruption, lawlessness and opportunistic politics.
Going beyond the speech, Vadra turned her public meetings into a question-answer relay. "What is the meaning of politics?" she asked her audience. To serve people, came the reply. "What is the importance of casting votes?" she asked again. It gives you power to change, replied a youth. And as she packed up for the day, she packed in the final punch. "Who can best serve your interests?"