| Rahul Gandhi waves to the crowd as he enters the Jorhat stadium on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos |
Uriagaon (Nagaon), Feb. 26: Rahul Gandhi may not have spoken but his presence was enough for Akoni Bordoloi, Mujibur Rahman and countless others who waited patiently for a glimpse of the Congress leader.
The 43-year-old Congress vice-president arrived two hours behind schedule and could not mingle much with the public because of security reasons, but the aura and influence of the Gandhi family in these parts were palpable in Rahul’s road show from Nagaon to Tezpur, a distance of 65km, this afternoon.
“I went to Guwahati yesterday to attend his rally but did not get to see him properly because of the huge crowd. I wanted to see him from close quarters today. I had seen Rajiv Gandhi when I was 20. I have seen Indira Gandhi’s photo ... she appears very charming. I wanted to see whether Rahul had the same charm. He is as charming and appears sincere,” Bordoloi said.
Rahul stayed less than five minutes at Uriagaon but the people went crazy with most wanting to shake hands with him. From Uriagaon, he drove to nearby Laukhowa, Kathapara and Ambagan under Samaguri Assembly constituency in Nagaon district, which is dominated by religious minorities.
“I have heard Rahul’s father (Rajiv Gandhi) had done a lot for the safety and security of religious minorities in Assam. The Assam Accord was the outcome of his endeavour. We are grateful to the Gandhi family and keep our faith in Rahul. I wanted to hear Rahul sir speak but he did not. Doesn’t matter ... his presence is enough,” Rahman, a teacher in a lower primary school at Ambagan, said.
In Sonitpur district, a healthy crowd greeted Rahul at Mission Chariali, Dekargaon and Holeswar near Tezpur. They were a bit disappointed as Rahul just waved and moved ahead as he was running late. “We were waiting at Dekargaon since morning to see Rahul and talk to him. But he arrived here at 3.30pm and did not even stop. I am disappointed,” Binita Singh, a young girl, rued.
Bhupen Kumar Borah, AICC secretary and sitting MLA, said Rahul was not able to stop at the eight scheduled stops in Tezpur because of the “heavy turnout” despite bandhs. “The turnout reflects the magnetic power of the Gandhi family. Most of those who attended were women. The rally was unorganised,” Borah claimed. Rahul’s road show caused traffic congestion on National Highway 37 (A) in Sonitpur district.
After the road show, Rahul flew to Jorhat, his last port of call during his two-day visit to Assam that got under way with a massive rally in Guwahati yesterday.
Rahul landed at Jorhat stadium at 5pm accompanied by chief minister Tarun Gogoi, PCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita and AICC general secretary in charge of Assam C.P. Joshi. He was greeted by a line-up of senior and youth Congress leaders on the ground. A cheer rose from the packed galleries, comprising mostly women, as Rahul waved sitting atop the hood of his SUV. He then proceeded to Court Field for an interactive meet with about 600 women from across the state. He wooed them with the promise of greater empowerment and representation in governance.
“We will work systematically to give women power in Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha. India can become a superpower only when your voice is there and heard,” he said.
To a question on providing security to women in Assam, he said the question could best be answered by the chief minister. “There are two issues here. One is to construct a society where women have respect and equal say and the other is to mete out punishment to those who indulge in harassment and violence against women,” he said.