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Sonia ends campaign trail; leaves son Rahul, open letter

By Staff
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Rae Bareli, May 4: Congress President Sonia Gandhi launched a scathing attack on the Mulayam Singh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh for ''ignoring'' people's interests and playing petty politics over developmental issues, winding her two-day campaign trail for the May 8 bypoll.

Addressing as many as five election rallies, Ms Gandhi targeted the state government for being indifferent to the ''well being of common man'' and advancing its own vested interest.

She said the fear of helping her gain political mileage was stopping the state government from accepting central funds for the development of Rae Bareli.

She claimed the Samajwadi Party-led regime had declined to accept funds under a Rs 265-crore project approved by the union ministry of water resources.

''Will the project not help the people of Rae Bareli?'' she asked, ''there should be no politics at the cost of innocent people,'' she remarked.

During her speeches, Ms Gandhi also highlighted the association of Nehru-Gandhi family's long association with the constituency.

Exuding confidence about her victory in the May 8 election, Ms Gandhi said it was only her sentimental attachment with the constituency which brought her here, although she was not required to come (to seek votes). ''It was my duty to come amongst you, whose support to me has always been unquestionable.'' ''It was my association with the constituency which prompted me to send Rahul here before I came,'' she said.

In her last rally addressed this afternoon at Maharajganj in Bachrawan, she said she had joined politics just to serve the people and came down heavily on those who were advancing their vested interests.

''I have no personal vested interest in politics and I am here with the sole aim to serve people,'' she said this morning while addressing an election meeting at Shankarpur in Dalmau assemebly segment of Rae Bareli LS constituency. She arrived here yesterday to address five election meetings during her two-day visit.

''This is not fair. Politics should be used as a platform for public service,'' she added without taking any names.

Dubbing Congress as an epitome of development, she said it was not a political party but a stream of development with an ideology.

Congress existed from pre-independence days and the public support had always been its hallmark, she said.

During her short speeches, Mr Gandhi also urged women to turn out in large numbers for the May 8 poll. Addressing election meetings at Satawan, Saraini and Sadar, she Gandhi said ''Being a woman, I consider emancipation of women as my main objective. Women have to play an important role in the development of society.'' ''Mein ek nani bhi hoon...(I am also a grandmother, therefore I understand what all women have to do,'' she said at Sadar where over 3,000 women, besides other members of public had gathered.

Reminding the people of Rae Bareli of their long standing association with the Nehru-Gandhi family, she said Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi always strived for the development of India as well as Rae Bareli.

She said she would try her best to ensure a bright future for the children of Rae Bareli. She reminded the people of the work she had done for the development of the area and the number of employment generated through various schemes.

''Being Prime Minister is not the only achievement, but to work for the people and earn their respect is something to cherish,'' she observed.

The trail-blazing electioneering notwithstanding, the gongress Chief is also soliciting votes with her signed letter addressed to the Rae Bareli electorate.

The printed epistle is being distributed to the people at all the election meetings of Ms Gandhi in the high profile constituency.

Seeking to connect emotionally with voters, the letter in Hindi mentions the long standing ''five generation'' bond of the Nehru-Gandhi family with Rae Bareli.

While one side of the letter contains the text, the flip side contains an image of the Congress chief surrounded by photographs of Feroze Gandhi, former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra.

The caption below the image reads, ''Rishta bara purana hai, bahu ko bhari maton se jitana hai (the bond is very old, ensure that the daughter-in-law (Sonia) wins by huge margin of votes.'' It also refers to the resignation from Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat by the Congress president on March 23 and her subsequent visit here.

Assuring to usher in development in the constituency ''against all odds,'' Ms Gandhi observes that her win would in fact be the victory of the people.

In the run-up to the May 8 LS bypoll, she arrived here yesterday to address one meeting each in the five assembly segments in Rae Bareli -- Saraini, Satawan, Sadar, Dalmau and Bachrawan.

On Friday, Ms Gandhi had appointed daughter Priyanka Vadra as her election agent. While Rahul would look after campaigning, Priyanka would handle the administrative part of the electioneering.

Ms Gandhi, who resigned from the seat on March 23 over the office of profit controversy, is seeking re-election to the lower house from the high-profile Parliamentary constituency.

UNI

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