Congress president Sonia Gandhi held a massive roadshow in Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday afternoon. The state is set to go to polls early next year.
As the march began, Gandhi waved from her vehicle with an open sunroof, to the thousands of cheering supporters who had lined the streets.
The crowd shouted slogans against the Modi government and as the road show passed through several localities, rose petals were showered on the party president and her cavalcade.
Earlier, hundreds of bikers drove from the airport to the heart of the city, waving party flags.
The Congress president is accompanied by the party’s chief ministerial candidate Sheila Dikshit, UP Congress chief Raj Babbar and senior party leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Salman Khurshid, Sriprakash Jaiswal, Pramod Tiwari, Rita Bahuguna Joshi among others.
Gandhi is said to offer prayers at Kashi Vishwanath temple after leading the roadshow.
The roadshow began from Kachahari and will cover a distance of about 8 kilometres. Gandhi is said to address the crowds at the end of the rally.
This is Gandhi’s first visit to Varanasi after PM Modi became Prime Minister.
On Monday Sheila Dikshit criticised the ruling Samajwadi Party on the law on order situation in the state.
“Law and order in the state under the SP has worsened and the recent incident of Bulandshahr was highly condemnable,” she said, adding that the Congress wants to rid the state of “SP, BSP and BJP misrule of the last 27 years” and put it on the path towards development. ’27 saal, UP Behaal’ is Congress’ pet slogan for the UP polls.
“I became the Delhi Chief Minister at the age of 60. Even then, people used to talk about my age but I served for almost 15 years…I will be fortunate to get a chance to serve my own state, Uttar Pradesh. I will put in my best efforts for its betterment. I am 78 but my age is not an issue till the time I am willing to work,” said Dikshit.
She also slammed the SP, BSP and the BJP for playing “religion and caste-based politics.”
Congress is pitching development for transforming UP. Dikshit promised that the Congress intends to bring job opportunities to the youth.
Congress has launched a campaign “dard-e-Banaras” to highlight lack of development in Varanasi. The party has been out of power for 27 years in UP and is projecting that the state has gone from bad to worse in those years.
In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Congress had only won two seats, Amethi and Rae Bareli. A majority of the seats were scooped up by BJP and its ally Apna Dal. BJP secured 73 seats out of the total 80 seats.
(With inputs from PTI)