Sonia files nomination; hopes party will be revived in UP

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Rae Bareli, Apr 17 (UNI) Amid cacophony of drums and slogan-shouting by her supporters, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today filed her nomination for the May 8 byelection to the Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat, hoping her re-election would help boost the prospects of her party in Uttar Pradesh.

Ms Gandhi, who resigned from the Rae Bareli seat less than a month ago in the wake of the office of profit controversy, was accompanied by her children Rahul and Priyanka, and son-in-law Robert Vadra.

While expressing confidence that things had started looking up for the party in UP, Ms Gandhi said the process of reviving the organisation in the state would continue relentlessly.

''Things have already started looking up in UP for Congress and the process will continue further,'' she maintained in a brief chat with mediapersons after filing her papers.

Talking about the attachment of Gandhis' with Rae Bareli, she observed that Rae Bareli and Amethi were the ''karmabhoomi'' for her family, which was dedicated to the development of the area.

''I can only ensure that after my re-election from Rae Bareli, the development process will move more speedily,'' the Congress President said.

Ms Gandhi, however, walked away from the media with a smile when questioned on the opposition charge that she had forced the byelection on Rae Bareli.

Ms Gandhi submitted four sets of nomination papers to returning officer and district magistrate Jitendra Kumar.

She also read out the customary oath during the filing of papers.

Her proposers in the nomination included Surendra Pratap Singh, Kamal Nain Verma, Ashok Singh, Uma Shanker Mishra and Dr Muslim.

Counsel Raghavendra Mishra aided her in the legal obligations with the nomination even though there was heavy rush inside the room.

Also present on the occasion were two union ministers Akhilesh Das and Sriprakash Jaiswal, Congress general secretary in charge of UP Ashok Gehlot, UP Congress legislature party leader Pramod Tiwari and UP Congress president Salman Khurshid.

Before reaching the collectorate, she held a brief roadshow enroute to Rae Bareli from Lucknow.

The AICC president offered prayers at a Hanuman temple at Churwa on the Lucknow-Rae Bareli border. Later, she participated in a 'puja' at Tilak Bhawan, the District Congress headquarter before filing her papers.

Mr Rahul Gandhi, the MP from Amethi, has been appointed poll manager for the Congress president in the bypoll. He would campaign in the segment from April 24.

During a public meeting in Rae Bareli on March 28, the Congress chief had announced her decision to seek re-election to silence her critics.' Congress election managers are now focussing on her 'sacrifice.'' Various other issues related to law and order situation and development of UP would also draw attention.

The Samajwadi Party has decided to field Mr Rajkumar Chowdhury, a relative of senior leader Beni Prasad Verma, from Rae Bareli.

The BJP is yet to decide on its candidate against Ms Gandhi.

UNI/NAB/AT/ RN1905

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