Sonia’s shortened tour further affected by storm

May 14th, 2008 - 11:55 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi
By Rakesh Mohan Chaturvedi
Rae Bareli (Uttar Pradesh), May 14 (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s tour of her Lok Sabha constituency Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh appeared jinxed from the word go. Gandhi had to cut short her visit by a day to be able to go to Jaipur where serial terror bombings Tuesday left at least 63 killed, and later a storm here Wednesday disrupted her programme.

“She was scheduled to spend Wednesday and Thursday here and leave for New Delhi Friday morning, but she plans to fly back today,” Kishori Lal Sharma, one of her close associates here, told IANS.

“She will visit the affected areas of Jaipur Thursday,” he said.

However, the already shortened visit was further jeopardised when a severe storm gripped Rae Bareli around 3.15 p.m.

Gandhi had moved from Lalganj area of the district when the storm struck. People moved indoors and the storm forced Gandhi’s cavalcade of around 15 vehicles to come to a grinding halt.

Half an hour later, she drove back to the guest house where she was staying during the visit.

When asked for her reaction to the Jaipur blasts, Gandhi appeared to ignore the question. Later, the press was kept at bay and sources said this was done at her behest.

Officials who had made all preparations at the Fursatganj airstrip here for her to fly back to Delhi Wednesday were in a fix after the storm.

Several trees were uprooted on the way and traffic was disrupted.

Gandhi usually visits her constituency once in three months. However, this visit came after a period of five months. She was last here Dec 19.

“She was busy due to the budget session of parliament. And some of the recent political events have kept her busy,” said a local Congressman.

Manoj Mattoo, another Congress leader, said: “Her main concern during this visit was to find out how welfare programmes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) are working in her constituency.”

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