Rahul takes Sonia's spot in UP campaign

Rahul takes Sonia's spot in UP campaign

Rahul takes Sonia's spot in UP campaign

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi assumed the centre stage in the election campaign for Uttar Pradesh in the wake of party president Sonia Gandhi’s ill health.

Rahul planned an encore of his successful 2012 tour of the poll-bound state beginning from Deoria in eastern region.

Announcing the Congress vice president’s “Maha-Yatra”, All India Congress Committee general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad said Rahul will not address big public meetings during the 25-day tour.

“The focus will be on small gatherings, stump meetings, and road shows in towns as Rahul travel across the state,” said Azad, who is in charge of party affairs in Uttar Pradesh.

But buzz in the Congress was whether Rahul will visit Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Rama, a town significant in BJP’s growth from a two-member party to having majority in the Lok Sabha.

Also, Azad refused to comment on whether Rahul will visit Varanasi — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency.

The Congress has got the first mover’s advantage in Uttar Pradesh where it is has been out of power for nearly three decades. It has undertaken a series of public outreach initiatives — a three-day bus yatra through western Uttar Pradesh, Rahul’s interaction with workers in Lucknow and Sonia’s road show in Varanasi.

Senior leaders in the state have already embarked on two different yatras on August 21 from Lucknow and Rahul’s “Maha Yatra” will be a simultaneous event aimed at creating a buzz about the Congress. During his 25-day tour beginning on September 6, Rahul will travel 2,500 km and visit 55 Lok Sabha constituencies, 223 Assembly segments spread across 39 districts.