Attempting to resurrect a near moribund organisation in the Hindi heartland, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday stormed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency accompanied by a feisty throng of 10,000 bikers.
Gandhi flew in for a day-long programme in the constituency and was led by hundreds of bikers, waving party flags from the airport to the heart of the city.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi also paid tribute to Dr. BR Ambedkar in Varanasi ahead of her massive road show, which covered various parts of the city.
Her choice of starting the campaign from Varanasi for the assembly elections scheduled next year is significant given the fact that it sends a signal that Congress is daring Modi on his home turf.
This is Ms. Gandhi’s first visit to Varanasi after Mr. Modi became Prime Minister.
She is accompanied by Sheila Dikshit, the party’s Chief Ministerial candidate in the State, AICC general secretary Gulam Nabi Azad and UPCC chief Raj Babbar besides senior party leaders Pramod Tiwari and Sanjay Singh.
The Congress has launched a campaign dard-e-banaras to highlight lack of development in Varanasi, which Mr. Modi is representing for over two years in the Lok Sabha.
“Yes we need a chamatkaar (miracle) in Uttar Pradesh but it has happened in the past too, even 2014 was a miracle for our opponents and we are hoping there will be a miracle this time too,” said Mr Babbar whose party hopes to reverse its trend of placing last in recent elections in the state.
The Congress is out of power for 27 years in Uttar Pradesh and is projecting that the State has gone from bad to worse in last 27 years through a campaign called 27 saal UP behal.
The larger narrative, however, in this script for Congress’ revival is evident: that Congress in UP elections will be seeking to make a course-correction, attempting to regain its centrist position in the national polity. This refrain is likely to be heard in every speech, every political demonstration and program which the party plans in the run-up to the polls.