Sonia rules the roost in home turf Raebareli

Sonia rules the roost in home turf Raebareli

Amidst mounting worries in the Congress camp about the outcome of the ongoing Lok Sabha polls, the one constituency that stands out as an oasis for the party is Raebareli, represented by chief Sonia Gandhi.

Looking for her fourth term from here, Sonia, in the absence of any formidable opponent, seems to be sitting pretty in this constituency. Her victory margin, however, may not be too wide, people here feel.

“Sonia’s victory is a certainty. She will get votes from all sections of society, but the margin of her win may decrease a little,” said Uma Shankar Dixit, a retired teacher from Bacharawan, an assembly segment in Raebareli Lok Sabha constituency. Seventy-year-old Dixit still fondly recalls his meeting with former prime minister Indira Gandhi in Delhi in 1974 at an All India Teachers’ Meet. He has not met Sonia as yet.

Such is the affection for Sonia here that even saffron supporters vote for her. Sunil Awasthi, who had voted for the BJP nominee in the 2012 Assembly polls, will vote for Sonia in the Lok Sabha elections. “Whatever development you see here has been done by Sonia,” Awasthi, who owns a paint shop, said. People in Gangaganj, Unchahar, Jagatpur, Fursatganj among other places, share this sentiment.

The Rail Coach Factory at Lalganj, the proposed Women’s University, the branch rail line, FM radio station are some of the initiatives that people say have been taken by her over the past few years. The four-lane road that connects Raebareli to Lucknow is also cited as an achievement, while work for the much-needed railway overbridge in town is underway. Suresh Soni, a tailor, also concurred. “No one can defeat Sonia here. She does not even need to come here. There is no Modi wave here,” he said. 

It is another matter that Sonia’s daughter, Priyanka Gandhi, has been addressing around 25 to 30 corner meetings every day, telling people to support her mother for development of the constituency and the country.

Sonia too regularly visits block party offices and interacts with office-bearers. Congress’ Harchandpur block office-bearers take pride in showing their arrival register that bears Sonia’s signature. “Yahan to kewal panja hai” (only the palm is seen here), said 65-year-old Mohemmed Naseem, a resident of Rahi village, as another local Javed, a first-time voter, nodded in agreement.

However, it is not like people do not have grouses. Locals do complain about power shortage and lack of proper health facilities. Interestingly, many would like Sonia to be their representative, but talk of a change at the Centre. 

The BJP has fielded Supreme Court lawyer Ajay Agarwal from here, and he is banking on the ‘Modi wave’ and committed BJP voters to sail through. While the Samajwadi Party (SP) has not nominated its candidate here, the BSP has fielded Ram Lakhan Pasi, who does not have much presence here. The Aam Aadmi Party has fielded retired judge Justice Fakhruddin, who does not seem to be in the running.  

Sonia shifted to Raebareli in 2004 and left her Amethi seat for her son and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi. 

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