Indian Express

Sonia Gandhi’s rally draws poor attendance, ridicules Narendra Modi’s ambitions

An unenthusiastic crowd -- quarter the size Rahul had drawn for his cancelled Gumla rally -- had turned up. Tweet This
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Congress President Sonia Gandhi addresses an election campaign rally in Ramgarh, Jharkhand on Friday. (PTI) Congress President Sonia Gandhi addresses an election campaign rally in Ramgarh, Jharkhand on Friday. (PTI)

Congress President Sonia Gandhi addressed a poorly-attended rally in Ramgarh town on Friday, and though she never addressed Narendra Modi by name, delivered a severe criticism of his Prime Ministerial ambitions.

During most of her 11-minute speech to request votes for the party’s Hazaribagh candidate Saurabh Narain Singh, Sonia listed the achievements during 10 years of the UPA rule. “These things were not easy to do. The Opposition placed hurdles before us each step of the way. However, nothing will stop us from helping the poor,” said Sonia.

The meeting, scheduled to begin at 12 in the afternoon, began half an hour late. However, that was no relief for the organisers, who were frantically exhorting people to walk into the barricaded venue. That the rally happened around jum’ah hours didn’t help matters. By the time Sonia’s chopper descended, an unenthusiastic crowd — quarter the size Rahul Gandhi had drawn for his cancelled Gumla rally of April 1 — had turned up.

“Others say they will make magic overnight. Has it come to it that one has to tell the most lies to become the Prime Minister of this great country? There are people who will go to any extent to capture the chair,” said Sonia.

Sonia said that the Congress does not lie to the electorate. “We have fulfilled each promise made in our 2009 manifesto. The same will happen for our 2014 one: we do not lie; we will complete each point,” she said.

Earlier in her speech, Sonia also referred to violence without making it clear whether she was talking of Narendra Modi or Maoists. “Any kind of violence is a threat to our social fabric,” she said. She then went on to say that those who have a history of violence should come into the mainstream.

Keeping in mind she was talking in the coal town of Ramgarh and referred to its coal workers. “Remember that it was the government of Indira Gandhi that nationalised coal mines. The Congress has always kept in mind the people who work in mines,” she said.

Though short, the speech was not without its gaffes. Sonia addressed Jharkhand Finance Minister and Congressman Rajendra Prasad Singh – present onstage — as Rajendra Pratap Singh. At one point, she used the word “vanvasi,” a term preferred by the RSS when it talks about the adivasis.

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