UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi Thursday filed her nomination from Rae Bareli with her son and Congress president Rahul Gandhi and daughter Priyanka Vadra Gandhi by her side. After a brief road show, the Congress leader went to the collectorate to file her papers with a large number of Congress supporters carrying party flags and banners cheering her all along the route.
Before starting the road show, she offered ‘puja’ at the Congress office where her son-in-law Robert Vadra and grandson Rehan were also present. The former Congress president is aiming for a fifth victory from the parliamentary constituency, in a straight contest against Dinesh Pratap Singh, who recently joined the BJP after quitting her party.
Sonia Gandhi reminded reporters about the 2004 parliamentary elections, when most observers falsely predicted that the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA will return to power. Along the road show route, enthusiastic Congress workers from all assembly segments under the Amethi Lok Sabha seat came out in strength to support her.
Sonia Gandhi, 72, clad in a red handloom saree and bearing a tilak on her forehead, came out of her SUV to wave at the crowd. Braving the sun, Congress supporters had waited along Kutchery Road since the morning.
Local women displayed party flags. A group of students and teachers from Ram Krishna Public Inter College stood under a tree, carrying banners with pictures of Congress leaders. Dancing and waving flags to the beat of drums, party workers raised slogans calling for a change of government, and mocking the “turncoat” BJP candidate.
They chanted “Takht badal do taaj badal do, beimaano ka raj badal do" and "Dal badalu phasey shikanjey mein, mohar lagegi panjey par". Shandilya Muni, who had donned a saffron scarf and claimed to be the spokesman of Shankaracharya Prayag Peeth, evoked interest among the crowd.
Congress supporters also waved massive flags that portrayed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and industrialist Anil Ambani embracing each other. The Congress has alleged corruption in the Rafale aircraft deal, saying Ambani benefitted from it, a charge repeatedly denied by the Centre and the business house.
People from “Priyanka Youth Front” squatted on the road. They wore shirts with the picture of the Congress general secretary. Party workers had even installed devices that showered flower petals on party leaders. Stalls distributed water packets to workers.
Sonia Gandhi has earlier won the seat in 2004, 2006 bypolls, 2009 and 2014. Since 1957, the Congress has lost this seat only three times – in 1977, 1996 and 1998.
In 1977, after Emergency, the erstwhile Bharatiya Lokdal's Raj Narain defeated Indira Gandhi. BJP candidate Ashok Kumar Singh won the seat in 1996 and 1998, defeating the Congress. The Congress has won the seat 19 times, including three bye-elections. The seat has also been represented by Firoze Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Arun Nehru, Sheila Kaul and Capt Satish Sharma in the past.
Rae Bareli constituency has five assembly segments -- Bachhrawan, Harchandpur, Rae Bareli, Sareni and Unchahar. In 2014, the constituency recorded a poll percentage 51.73 per cent, with Sonia Gandhi getting 5,26,434 votes.
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