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Children steal mom Priyanka’s poll show

Rae Bareli, April 24: Step aside Rahul, it’s time for the sixth-generation Nehru-Gandhis to take over. Ever since Priyanka has landed here with children Rehan and Mira, people have talked of little else.

This is the first time Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has dropped her guard and let the children mingle freely with the crowds. When she had first started actively campaigning for the Congress, she was fiercely protective.

“Please don’t take my children’s pictures. It is a request,” she told over-eager photographers in the run-up to the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

But this time the young mother is relaxed. “My children are also here,” a laughing Priyanka told reporters.

The kids sometimes travel in the same car as their mother or follow in the cavalcade of security guards that travels with the Gandhis. They have taken to waving enthusiastically at bystanders and distributing little pin-on campaign brochures for the Congress.

“I saw them. They gave me a little round pin-on,” little Asmina of Dih village in Amethi said. She proudly displayed her trophy to her friends in the locality.

Rehan (top), Mira

People in Dih, Jagdishpur, Jano, Shahgarh — almost everywhere Priyanka has travelled — cannot stop talking about her easy and informal manner. She enters little huts and talks to mothers-in-law about their little fights with daughters-in-law. She hugs babies and laughs with people in the village square.

Although the kids are not part of the campaign, their presence has attracted a lot of attention. “They travel around in this scorching heat. They are really sweet kids,” said Munni in Jagdishpur.

True to the Gandhi tradition, Priyanka has kept her family life extremely private. But she lets her children play freely with the slum children living behind her bungalow in Lodhi estate in Lutyen’s Delhi.

“They speak mostly in Hindi. I prefer it this way. They’ll speak English anyway when they grow up,” she had said a couple of years ago when the neighbourhood kids came swarming into her house to play with her children.

Rehan and Mira are not uncomfortable about village children and over-eager mothers fawning on them. “It is not as if the kids are also campaigning. They are babies and accompany their mother when she has to stay away for long periods, that’s all,” a Congress leader said.

Gandhi or Vadra'

As she campaigned in Sultanpur, Priyanka let out a soundbite that had the women swooning and, possibly, the men crowing.

“Introduce me as Priyanka Vadra and not Priyanka Gandhi,” she told a reporter after a roadshow.

The women who heard her smiled from ear to ear. “A good leader has to be a good wife, too. She has all the qualities of a leader,” Hukum Bi, a Congress supporter, said.

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