The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rajmata wears halo of sacrifice
- Rae Bareli crowns Sonia in gold as symbol of renunciation

Rae Bareli, June 11: Sonia Gandhi today reasserted her image secured through abdication last month by vouching for the tradition of renunciation as upheld by the country’s great leaders.

“You might have been upset over my decision not to be the Prime Minister of the country but I have come to join politics not for any gain,” she told party workers at Para village in her constituency of Rae Bareli.

“There should be someone in the country to say no to power and tread the path of self-sacrifice; someone has to live up to the tradition of renunciation, built by the sacrifice of leaders in the past,” the Congress chief said, and the meaning was hard to miss.

Sonia might not have been digging into remote history because as she spoke, she looked at the photographs of her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi and husband Rajiv Gandhi kept close by on the stage at the village.

On her first visit here since her election victory by over 2.5 lakh votes, the Rae Bareli MP received the epithet of rajmata.

Renunciation and crown may not go together but the party workers gifted her a gold crown of around 10 tollah and made her wear it to thunderous applause from an impressive crowd.

“This crown is symbolic of the high moral standard she has set for herself,” a worker said.

Congratulating her voters, Sonia said: “I am so happy today to carry forward this tradition (of renunciation and sacrifice). I would not have been so happy had I actually become the Prime Minister of the country.”

Sonia, accompanied by her son and Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi, attended three party programmes, including one organised in Rae Bareli town where Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Singh is said to have unleashed terror.

People lined up along the 50-km stretch between Lucknow airport and Rae Bareli, forcing Sonia to step out of her motorcade 12 times. The Congress chief and her son were showered with rose petals at Para village as women conducted arti.

She said the message from the people’s mandate was that no one could fool them for long as they ultimately looked beyond caste and communal politics and sought fulfilment of the promises made.

Without naming the National Democratic Alliance, Sonia said the last government at the Centre wasted funds and ignored programmes for the poor, thus incurring their wrath.

The Congress’ first coalition government at the Centre was the compulsion of the hour, she said. “Strangely, the BJP never thought the Congress would be able to form a coalition without much hiccups. In the shortest possible time, a common minimum programme has been formulated.”

Sonia emphasised that the common programme included projects for the backwards, women and youth. “My effort would be to see that the government adheres to the CMP strictly.”

Taking a potshot at non-Congress regimes at the Centre in the last eight years and in Uttar Pradesh for 15 years, she said their governments functioned whimsically and did not fulfil people’s aspirations, thus halting development.

She assured the people of her constituency that the Centre would not hesitate now to sanction programmes set aside for them.

Taking up her son’s refrain but without naming the Samajwadi Party government, Sonia said even today basic needs of the people of Uttar Pradesh, including drinking water, power and roads, were yet to be satisfied.

She, however, refrained from making any harsh comment on the Mulayam Singh Yadav government though Congress workers alleged “Akhilesh Singh’s reign of terror” in the area and many others flooded her with petitions for development work.

Sonia is believed to have giver her consent to an agitation against the state government to keep the Congress machinery well-oiled. She urged party workers to step up the organisational network.

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