UPA chairperson and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi will address her first election rally in nearly two years on May 8 at Bijapur in Karnataka. Congress is trying to return to power in a close contest with the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state. PM Modi is expected to speak at a large rally in the same district on the same day. Sonia, 71, had skipped campaigning state elections after she was forced to call off a roadshow midway on August 2, 2016, in Varanasi due to ill health. Congress secretary in-charge of Karnataka Manickam Tagore, who is overseeing the arrangements at Bijapur, said Sonia’s rally will “motivate” cadre and send a strong message to voters. Sonia Gandhi’s absence in election campaigns over the past 20 months was the first such after she joined active politics in 1998. On January 11, 1998, she kicked off her first election tour by addressing a public meeting at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu where her husband and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on May 21, 1991.