Rahul to oversee Sonia's campaign
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Rahul to oversee Sonia's campaign

Rahul Gandhi, who represents the adjoining Amethi Lok Sabha constituency, arrived in Rae Bareli on Monday.

india Updated: Apr 25, 2006 22:57 IST

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's son Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday got down to the business of organising the poll campaign for his mother, seeking to be re-elected from the Uttar Pradesh constituency of Rae Bareli after voluntarily stepping down from the Lok Sabha membership last month.

Rahul Gandhi, who represents the adjoining Amethi Lok Sabha constituency, arrived in Rae Bareli on Monday to oversee the campaign for his mother.

Though Rahul is accompanied by his late father Rajiv Gandhi's co-pilot and friend Satish Sharma, who held the Rae Bareli seat for a term in 1999, the young Gandhi plans to undertake extensive touring of the constituency on his own.

He has sought poll details of each of the polling stations spread across the constituency that covers a large rural belt.

Sonia and Priyanka are expected to join the campaign towards the last leg in the first week of May, just before the elections on May 8.

"Rahul Gandhi has sought a lot of information relating to results during the last elections, including the number of votes polled at each station. We have provided him with everything," district Congress president Uma Shankar Misra said over the phone from Rae Bareli.

Family aide Kishori Lal Sharma, who knows both Rae Bareli as well Rahul Gandhi's constituency Amethi like the palm of his hand, has chalked out a route plan for the high-profile campaigner.

He has also prepared a list of as many as 17,000 party workers, who will spread across the sprawling and essentially rural constituency.

This is the first time that Sonia Gandhi's campaign will be managed by her son in what has come to be the family bastion.

In the 1950s, Rae Bareli was picked up by Sonia's father-in-law Feroze Gandhi as his constituency.

Her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi took over the constituency in the 1960s and continued to nurture it through the 1970s and in 1980.

Family member Arun Nehru came on the scene subsequently followed by another Nehru-Gandhi kin Sheila Kaul and now Sonia Gandhi.

Rahul will conduct the campaign from Pandey-kothi, the traditional camp of the Gandhi family that was also frequented by his grandmother Indira Gandhi.

Congress spokesperson Akhilesh Singh said: "Rahul's arrival here has greatly enthused workers."

With the last day of withdrawals having expired on Monday, there are 16 candidates, including 12 independents, in the fray.

Sonia Gandhi's most high profile competitor is Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rabble-rouser Vinay Katiyar.

The other contestants include Samajwadi Party's Raj Kumar Chaudhary and Apna Dal's Prabha Singh, supported by expelled BJP leader Uma Bharti.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has decided to stay away from the contest.

Sonia Gandhi quit as Lok Sabha MP and as National Advisory Council chairperson last month after allegations that she was holding an office of profit.

First Published: Apr 25, 2006 14:45 IST