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Sonia sets stage for UP roadshow

Lucknow, Aug. 2: Sonia Gandhi will kick off her whirlwind Uttar Pradesh tour with a rally in Allahabad in mid-month and possibly some fresh attacks on the ruling Samajwadi Party on the eve of byelections in the state.

Party sources said the Congress chief will visit Allahabad and stay at Swaraj Bhawan on August 11. She will attend an official programme and kickstart her campaign the next day.

“The AICC president is going to address a rally there after the inauguration of the programme,” an official Uttar Pradesh Congress spokesperson said.

Twelve Assembly seats and two Lok Sabha seats — vacated by chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayavati — will go to the polls.

From Allahabad, Sonia will proceed to Jaunpur, Faizabad and Varanasi and will be accompanied by son Rahul Gandhi to some places.

During a trip to his Amethi constituency last week, the first-time Congress MP toned down his criticism of the Mulayam Singh government but made it clear the regime was not cooperating on Amethi’s development.

However, some other Congress leaders, led by Satyavrat Chaturvedi, who was recently put in charge of Uttar Pradesh, said the ruling Samajwadi Party should improve law and order and ensure that the basic needs of the people are met. “Poor power supply and law and order have hit life hard here,” Chaturvedi said last week.

With fresh acrimony rising to the surface, Samajwadi Party members today called Congress leaders “corrupt and idle” in the Assembly. Their Congress counterparts responded by saying all members of the Mulayam Singh government are “thieves”.

Congress legislature party leader Pramod Tiwari today moved an adjournment motion against the ruling party mentioning villages where party workers have been attacked and in some places, killed.

“It was political vendetta that killed (Congress district secretary) Abhay Singh in Amethi-Sultanpur. In a democracy, every party has the right to propagate its own views but despite supporting a party which is in the government, our workers have come under virulent attack. This is a shame,” the leader said.

Samajwadi Party MLAs protested his remarks, prompting verbal tussles between members of the two parties. The chief minister tried to pacify the Congress, saying: “….The state government will ensure the safety of Congress workers.”

State Congress chief Jagdambika Pal has an explanation for the recent acrimony. “This is a fight for space in a state where we once had a strong support base. So now as the Congress tries to revive its party structure, confrontation cannot be avoided.”

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