The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia drips fire & steel
- Cong chief tears into rivals, gloats at Opposition rush to save face

Rae Bareli, March 28: A combative Sonia Gandhi poured her heart out to Rae Bareli today, launching her bid to return to Parliament.

“The fight will continue, this caravan will roll on,” she said, to a roar of applause from the 30,000-strong crowd in her constituency.

Anger and hurt flashed alternatively as Sonia explained her decision to step down as MP following an onslaught from the Opposition, which had accused the government of trying to bring an ordinance on offices of profit only to save her.

Bijli girti hai, aandhi chalti hai to woh log kahte hain ki Sonia ne karai hai (If there’s lightning or storm, they say it’s Sonia’s doing),” the Congress president said.

Opposition ke sare teer, goli, pathrao ka nishana Sonia Gandhi hoti hai (Sonia Gandhi is the target of all the Opposition’s arrows and its firing and stone-pelting).

Sonia was reading from a prepared text but the words, put forth with emotion, struck a chord. People in the audience were heard saying she had suffered a lot.

Wearing a cream sari, Sonia arrived at 11 am to drum beats and a band after a 40-km drive from Lucknow. At the border of the constituency, she stepped out of her vehicle and into a roadside Hanuman temple to offer flowers to the deity.

All along the way, supporters described her as “tyag ki aandhi” (storm of sacrifice) and tyag ki devi (goddess of sacrifice). After the impressive roadshow, the Congress president announced: “I will contest elections again and I will do it from here only.”

“I am not a loser. I won’t step back,” she added.

Sonia told the audience that after she made up her mind to step down, she had taken her children Rahul and Priyanka into confidence and now she had come to her constituency.

“I had to pass through one of the worst moments of my political life. I know you are the final judge of what I have done.

“Whenever there are sad or happy moments, one shares it with the family. Rae Bareli is my extended family,” she said.

The crowd immediately responded with: “We are with you.”

The Opposition has now stopped speaking about “morality” and started talking about “cooperation” on the office of profit, she said. “You must have noticed that everyone’s language has changed after my resignation. Everyone has become busy now in saving their face. The Opposition seems to be on the run,” she said, amid laughter.

“You have to do justice' I am coming back to you to seek your mandate,” she signed off, wishing her voters on Navratra in advance.

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