Sonia takes on Mayawati, set for jail if need be

October 14th, 2008 - 7:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiRae Bareli (Uttar Pradesh), Oct 14 (IANS) Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati may have stymied her rally and plans for a coach factory in her constituency, but a combative Congress chief Sonia Gandhi struck back with an emotive note Tuesday and said she would even go to jail, if necessary.Gandhi, who arrived here Tuesday afternoon, told reporters she would support all agitational measures of the state Congress for setting up the rail coach factory, the land allotment for which has been withdrawn by the state government.

When asked whether she would support a ‘jail bharo agitation’ by the Congress, Gandhi said categorically: “If need be, I am also prepared to go to jail.”

“Rae Bareli has been a ‘karmabhoomi’ of Firoze Gandhi and Indira Gandhi and it is like a home for me and Rahul too. How can anyone deprive us of the right to visit our home?” Gandhi asked.

Stung by Mayawati not just cancelling the land allotment for the coach factory in Rae Bareli’s Lalganj area but also prohibiting the assembly of four or more persons in the district barely a day before her rally, Gandhi asserted that the state government was creating hindrances in the development efforts launched by New Delhi.

On Saturday night, the Uttar Pradesh government had taken back the 400 acres it had allotted to the Indian Railways for the project. The Mayawati government also announced that it would return the compensation money to the railways.

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court Monday ordered status quo on the land while hearing a writ petition by the Northern Railway (NR) and a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by locals in the area.

Besides a public address in Lalganj, Gandhi was also to perform a ‘bhoomi poojan’, ground breaking ceremony, for the rail coach factory but the programme was put off following the controversy over the land for it.

Gandhi reached Rae Bareli around 1 p.m. but, said Congress officials, the administration made all efforts to disrupt her visit.

“Going by the schedule, Gandhi was to reach the Baiswara Degree College through Lalganj but the administration diverted the convoy from Gurbaxganj,” state Congress spokesperson Akhilesh Pratap Singh told reporters.

She met 124 patients in the college who had undergone an eye surgery in the special five-bogie train, Lifeline Express. An initiative of the central government, the train has a five-bed hospital facility; three eye surgeries were in progress when Gandhi visited the train at the Lalganj railway station.

“Besides eye surgery, we also perform lip, ear and polio corrective surgeries in our train,” Lifeline Express CEO Col. R.S. Vishwen told IANS.

The train, after successful stints in Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, reached Lalganj Oct 3 and will attend to patients till Oct 21, he added. Its next destination is Nazareth in Madurai.

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