Sonia reaches out to the common man (Lead)

May 7th, 2009 - 3:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi Thursday followed her children, who have given security a go-by in Election 2009 to reach out to the common man. She was returning home after casting her vote at Nirman Bhawan when she suddenly asked her speeding convoy to stop.
She gingerly stepped out of her bullet-proof vehicle and accepted a a bouquet from a man in a wheelchair.

There was a flurry of activity among the security personnel in Gandhi’s entourage as mediapersons rushed in her direction. The Special Protection Group (SPG) personnel jumped out of their cars and encircled her immediately.

Gandhi stopped after seeing Ashok Nagpal, 42, who waived at her with orange lilies in one hand and a tricolour in other.

“I have been coming here during all elections and giving a bouquet to Sonia Gandhi. Now, she recognises me. I had been waiting here since early morning. I knew she was coming to vote,” Nagpal, a resident of Patel Nagar in west Delhi, told IANS.

“I am not a Congress worker but I have been roaming throughout the city on my wheelchair asking people to vote for the Congress,” he said.

It is a trend that has been increasingly witnessed in Election 2009 with the highly protected Gandhi family breaching security cordons to reach out to people.

It started off when Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi threw security to the wind last month by mingling with the crowds at an election rally in Purulia, West Bengal. Later, he admitted to the media that these apparently impromptu interactions were cleared by the security personnel beforehand.

The young Gandhi scion Thursday cast his vote at a polling station at Aurangzeb Lane amid media frenzy. Although tight-lipped in front of the dozens of rolling cameras, Rahul Gandhi took a moment to chat with his fellow voters, who were impressed by his “pleasant” and “sincere” ways.

His sister Priyanka Gandhi, on the other hand, has been giving her SPG personnel a tough time, breaking from set campaign routes to reach out to village folk, hugging them or giving a friendly handshake in Uttar Pradesh while campaigning.

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