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Rahul on a road show for mission UP

Monday 19 March 2007

Press Trust of India

Muradnagar (UP), March 18: Rahul Gandhi kicked off the Congress’ campaign to revive its fortunes in Uttar Pradesh ahead of upcoming assembly polls by asking people to defeat divisive forces and help the state regain its glorious past.

Uttar Pradesh, which had historically showed the way to the country, had lost its way after 15 years of misrule, the son of Congress President Sonia Gandhi told a public meeting here as he began a three-day road show.

Rahul said the time has come for the people to defeat divisive forces to help the state regain its glorious past.

Earlier, the 37-year-old MP from Amethi promised a "new vision" and a "golden future" for the state at a roadside meeting in Mohan Nagar. "I have decided to work shoulder to shoulder with you all to end 15 years of misrule.

"Uttar Pradesh has been the cradle of development and all good things that has happened to the country including the independence struggle...I am here with a new vision and dream to restore the glory of the state."

However, the public meeting here did not attract a sizeable crowd and began three hours behind schedule. Local Congress leaders blamed the state administration for the thin attendance, saying many vehicles carrying party supporters were stopped before the venue of the meeting.

Rahul spoke in Muradnagar for just five minutes and dwelt on the lack of progress in the state under non-Congress governments. More than 40 per cent of the state’s funds came from the Centre but they were not used properly, he said, asking where were the hospitals and roads that could have been built with this money.

"Sixty per cent of Uttar Pradesh’s population is young and they have the capability of leading it to a golden age...15 years of misrule needs to come to an immediate end.

Uttar Pradesh will have to lead from the front. I have come here to work with you to take the state to its true glory," Rahul said.

State Congress chief Salman Khursheed said it was high time that Uttar Pradesh connected "itself to the powerhouse called the UPA which is providing energy to the whole country".

On his way to Muradnagar, the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family made several stops along his route and exhorted people to defeat "divisive forces".

A large crowd waited at the UP Gate to have a glimpse of Rahul, whose motorcade took about three hours to traverse a distance of 15 km.

The Congress has been in the political wilderness in the state for the past 15 years and hopes to improve its tally of 25 seats by using Rahul to rejuvenate the party. Even Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has admitted that Uttar Pradesh continues to be a difficult challenge.

Rahul plans to touch 32 assembly constituencies considered to be strongholds of Ajit Singh’s RLD and the ruling Samajwadi Party, a bitter rival of the Congress.

He is being driven in the state by old family friend and former MP Captain Satish Sharma. On his entry in Uttar Pradesh, Rahul was welcomed by Khursheed and party MPs.

See online : The Indian Express

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