|Priyanka inaugurates the solar power plant in Rae Bareli on Monday. Picture by Naeem Ansari
Lucknow, Oct. 28: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra today virtually launched the Congress campaign for the 2014 election in Rae Bareli, hopping from one village to another, mingling with the people and asking them why they had dumped her party last year.
Surprising party workers by an impromptu change of schedule, she headed straight to Lalganj, 42km west of Rae Bareli town, instead of going to the Bhuemau guest house on the constituency’s outskirts where she was slated to hold a meeting. The meeting will be held tomorrow.
This is the first time Priyanka has begun a mass contact programme since last year’s Uttar Pradesh elections, in which Congress candidates had lost from all five Assembly segments in Rae Bareli. She did visit the constituency with mother Sonia Gandhi on October 8 for the foundation stone-laying ceremony of a string of projects but did not interact much with the people.
At 11.30am today, when she reached Rewari Pasiya Khera village in Lalganj tehsil, villagers rushed to meet her. “You had elected my party legislator, Ajay Pal Singh, in 2007 but he lost the poll last year. Why didn’t you vote for him?” Priyanka asked the people, according to a Congress leader accompanying her.
“The villagers have been complaining that he hardly visited his constituency. We are happy you have come here,” an elderly villager told her.
Smiling, Priyanka asked the people how the new Samajwadi Party legislator, Manoj Pandey, was faring. “Are you happy with him?” she asked.
The villagers apparently kept quiet for a while. Then a student replied: “He got elected last year. He is yet to be tested. Let’s see.”
Priyanka then went to a village school, where a programme was held to celebrate the inauguration of a 15MW solar power plant, set up by an NGO as part of a central government-assisted project.
From Rewari, Priyanka went to Devpur and Bahadurpur villages of Sareni Assembly constituency. At Bahadurpur, she told block president Narendra Rai to step up his efforts to educate people about the food security act.
Congress leaders in Rae Bareli said Priyanka passed through 15 villages in all, stopping often and walking up to the people, mainly women, and chatting with them.
Rajiv Dixit, a Congress district general secretary, said there was a buzz that Priyanka would contest from Rae Bareli as Sonia was not keeping very well.
“I don’t know if it is true but she is the de facto candidate. Wherever she goes, she draws large crowds. In Rae Bareli, she is single-handedly shouldering the burden of the organisation,” he said.