M A I N   N E W S

Sonia in attack mode
Power politics hots up between Cong, Mulayam
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Gurubakshganj (Rae Bareli), June 17
Lashing out at the Mulayam government for removing Rae Bareli from the VIP list for uninterrupted power supply a day after her victory, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today asked “kya yeh insaaf hai?”

In her first visit to her constituency after her landslide win last month, she condemned the state government for punishing her voters. “Chunaav se pehle to thodi bahut bijli aa jati thi, ab to woh bhi nahin aati,” she told reporters in front of the Gurubakhganj police station.

She said since she drove into her constituency this morning, she had met an endless stream of people complaining about the worsening power situation.

She first stopped at the Hanuman temple at Churwa at the Lucknow-Rae Bareli border to pay her obeisance. Wearing a black and white sari, she waved at the cheering crowds as “Sonia Gandhi zindabad” rent the air.

She thanked her “brothers and sisters” for returning her to the Lok Sabha with an unprecedented victory of more than 4.17 lakh votes. Ms Gandhi also assured them that she was prepared to work for the betterment of the constituency.

She avoided a direct comment when asked if her son Rahul would be given any responsibility in the party set-up. When a reporter asked her if her son would be entrusted with any responsibility to strengthen the party in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the state Assembly poll next year, she said, “Rahul is sitting in the car, go and ask him.”

“No comments” is all she had to say on the unemployment allowance scheme launched by the Mulayam government on June 16.

Personally accepting hundreds of applications from villagers who had lined the roadside on the hot sunny day to have a glimpse of their leader, she carefully kept them on the seat of her car.

Among the many applications is one of 65-year-old visually impaired widow Phoolmati who is neither receiving a disability pension nor a widow pension. She had been waiting for her leader since morning. “We have returned her with a huge margin so that she can help us better,” she said.

Sarvadesh Singh, a graduate farmer from the area, has complained about the power and water situation which has lately become so bad that he feels like giving up farming. “Buying electricity and power adds to our cost of farming and I am virtually left with nothing,” he said.

The dried up Morawan canal which once irrigated their fields is the worry of Shiv Prasad who wants the intervention of the leader to help in the matter.

On the first day of her two-day visit to her constituency along with Rahul, Ms Gandhi held scores of impromptu roadside meetings where she thanked the people, heard their complaints and accepted their applications.

Tomorrow she is scheduled to have meetings with presidents and booth workers of all five Assembly constituencies of her parliamentary seat.



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