Rahul to kick off his road show tomorrow

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New Delhi, Mar 6 (UNI) Setting the tone for the Congress' campaign in the forthcoming poll season, AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi will kick-start his nationwide tour from the NDA-ruled Orissa tomorrow.

Over the next four days, the young MP from Amethi would be criss-crossing coastal state of Orissa to create a base for his party.

The scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family will begin his tour from Nuapada, one of the poorest regions of the country. Nuapada is also a tribal place adjoining Kalahandi, which had the dubious distinction of having reported starvation deaths a few years ago.

Though Mr Gandhi originally planned to begin his 'discovery of India journey' from South India, he later changed his plan to launch it from Orissa, apparently because of emotional reasons. The last speech of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi before her assassination in 1984 was made in Bubaneshwar and Rajiv Gandhi toured the state before his assassination in Sriperumbudur, near Chennai, in 1991.

In its bid to project the 37-year-old Gandhi as India's youth icon, the party managers have organised the tour programme in such a way that he could meet more young tribals.

''During his road shows, he will interact with the youth, tribals, farmers and party workers,'' a senior AICC General Secretary said here today, pointing out that his whirlwind tour would help inspire the youth to come forward in the task of nation building.

He expressed the hope that Mr Gandhi would be received well not only by the youth but also by farmers who have benefited by various measures, including the loan waiver, proposed in the Union Budget for 2008-09.

The Orissa tour will be followed by a visit to Karnataka later this month. He would then visit non-Congress ruled states as part of his road show programme.

''Though there is a strong demand from everywhere for him, Mr Gandhi has opted for those states which are being ruled by non-Congress governments,'' party sources said.

During his Orissa tour, he would visit 12 backward districts. He would visit Nuapada, Nabrangapur, Koraput, Rayagada, Sambalpur and Sundargarh, Bamra and Rourkela, Khordha, Cuttach, Jajppur and Angul.

On March 10, he will visit the state Congress office at Bhubaneswar, meet party functionaries and address a news conference.

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