Sonia infuses life into Congress in Uttar Pradesh (Lead)

April 19th, 2009 - 9:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi Lucknow, April 19 (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s long overdue visit to parts of Uttar Pradesh Sunday seemed to have infused adrenalin into the party that has been struggling to revive itself in this politically crucial and most populous state where it ruled for over four decades.
Sonia, often blamed for focussing only on her constituency Rae Bareli and her son’s constituency Amethi, chose to devote the day to three key constituencies of Allahabad, Faizabad and Lucknow - where she addressed well-attended poll rallies.

The difference between her last rally during the 2004 elections and now was not only that more people came to hear her but also that there was more response from them.

She trained her guns on each of her party’s key opponents - the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party.

She also decided to take on the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) - which she termed as BJP’s remote control. “The BJP is controlled by a particular organisation, without whose permission even the party’s top leadership cannot move an inch,” she charged.

She also reiterated her criticism of the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani, who has termed Manmohan Singh a weak prime minister.

“How can Advani call himself a strong leader when he was the man who struck a compromise with a notorious terrorist like Azhar Masood?” she asked, referring to the release of three terrorists released in exchange for hostages after a plane hijack in 1999.

“That clearly reflected how far someone like him can go to keep himself in power.”

In Lucknow, she appealed people to vote for the party’s nominee Rita Bahuguna Joshi as also Mohanlalganj’s independent candidate R.K. Chaudhary, to whom the Congress has extended support.

Wearing a light green printed saree, Gandhi made all efforts to charm people of Lucknow. Reciting a popular Urdu couplet, she said: “Lucknow hum pe fida; hum fidaye Lucknow.”

Taking on the Congress’ adversaries, she said, “I would wish my opponents to know that the divisive politics played by them by spreading casteist and communal feelings will not work in Lucknow, where people do not get guided by such considerations.”

Referring to the BJP’s pledge of ‘Ram Rajya’ or an ideal state, she said: “Let me remind those people who show dreams of establishing Ram Rajya that in Ram Rajya, there is no room for communal hatred, neither is there any scope for crime and criminals. Ram Rajya means establishment of total peace, harmony and brotherhood.”

Terming the Samajwadi Party as an unreliable and unpredictable party, she again used an old Urdu saying: “Pal mein tola, pal me maasa.”

In criticising BSP chief and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, she was even more blunt.

“What Mahatma Gandhi did for the uplift and well-being of the downtrodden was unparalleled and so did great souls like Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar and Jyotiba Phule whose contribution was no less, but they never built their own statues everywhere,” she said.

Mayawati has put up at least seven of her own large-size statues in this state capital alone.

“Those who should have been behind bars are now candidates of the Bahujan Samaj Party, whose leader once claimed to be vehemently opposed to criminalisation of politics.”

She also reiterated her charge that the state government was misusing central government funds meant for rural development schemes.

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