M A I N   N E W S

Sonia takes on Maya, visits Rae Bareli
Says ready to go to jail
Shahira Naim writes from Lalganj

Symbolically defying Mayawati’s attempts to put a stop to her scheduled visit to her constituency, Congress president Sonia Gandhi kept her appointment with Rae Bareli and declared that she was ready to go to jail for the sake of development.

Refusing to be cowed down by the Mayawati government’s refusal to allow her to hold a public rally next to Rail Coach Factory land in Lalganj, Sonia kept her promise by sending a message to her party workers to launch a struggle.

Thousands of people, including schoolchildren, had come out on the streets of the district cheering the Congress leader and demanding the factory.

Sonia said she had planned to come for a happy occasion of doing the bhumi pujan for the Rail Coach Factory. “You know the matter is now before the court and I will not make any comments,” she told reporters when asked to comment on the cancellation of the land allotment by the Mayawati government.

“Rae Bareli and Amethi have been the ‘karma bhoomi’ of Feroze Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. It is also like home to Rahul and me. Can anyone prevent me from coming home?” she told reporters while briefly interacting with them at the Lalganj railway station after inspecting the Lifeline Express train over there.

Sonia flew straight to the Fusatganj airstrip in Rae Bareli in order to avoid the state government’s possible plans of detaining her en route from Lucknow airport in view of prohibitory orders enforced in Rae Bareli.

Attacking Chief Minister Mayawati for stalling the Rail Coach Factory in her constituency by arbitrarily cancelling the allotment of land and returning it to the gram sabha, the Congress president pointed out that there were eight more central projects that were struck due to hurdles created by the state government. Among them the projects that are yet to come up are National Institute of Pharmaceuticals and Research, National Auto Training Research Institute, an AIIMS like hospital to be built over 100 acres, a CRPF recruiting centre, Hindustan Paper Mills and, Institute of Hotel Management. Those facing hurdles despite completion are the Rs 500-crore Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology and the National Institute of Fashion Technology.

Asked what her party would do about the Mayawati government’s move to stop these projects mid-track, Sonia indicated towards UPCC president Rita Bahuguan Joshi and other senior state leaders, “they would decide what to do”. When categorically asked if she was prepared to go to jail, Gandhi said, “I am also ready to go to jail”.

Earlier, the district administration diverted her scheduled route from Rae Bareli-Aihar-Lalganj to Satwan-Gurbakshganj and Lalganj disappointing thousands of people waiting on both sides of the road to have a brief glimpse of their leader. However, Sonia did manage to stop impromptu to hear out crowds angry at Mayawati’s decision near the ITT factory, motor chauraha, Dadaur, Malik Mau, Sataon and Gurbakshganj. On the way back to Fursatganj airport, she briefly stopped at the factory site to meet the thousands of villagers who had been waiting for her since morning. In one voice they told her that they wanted the factory.

Before arriving at the Lalganj railway station, Gandhi accompanied by Rita Bahuguan Joshi and other state-level senior leaders visited the Dayanand Baiswara Degree College. She enquired about the 124 patients admitted there who have undergone eye surgery on the special medical train.

The entire district had turned into a war zone with police presence visible everywhere. Rapid Action Force and PAC had been deployed.

In view of the district administration’s decision to enforce prohibitory orders in the district, Sonia cancelled her plans to address a rally in Lalganj town. Barricading material, chairs and tent were still lying there following the last minute decision to call off the public rally.




Now, MP denies permission for Sonia rally

Bhopal, October 14
After Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh scuttled a rally in Rae Bareli by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the BJP dispensation in Madhya Pradesh today refused permission for her meeting here, citing a “high risk” venue for it.

“The permission for holding Congress president’s rally was denied by the state government on the plea that Lal Parade ground is a high risk area,” MPCC president Suresh Pachouri told a press conference here.He alleged the permission was denied under pressure from the BJP government in the state. The Congress president is scheduled to arrive here on October 19 to launch her party’s poll campaign for the November 25 assembly elections in the state. — PTI



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