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Sonia v Mayawati - A tale of two rallies
Sharat Pradhan in Barabanki, UP |
April 16, 2007 16:41 IST
Both Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati are busy criss-crossing Uttar Pradesh holding campaign rallies to woo the voters.
There is one thing in common in their speeches -- both believe in Mulayam bashing -- while one did it with finesse, the other was more open and blatant in her criticism.
The rallies of both leaders pull in huge crowds. Yet there was a subtle difference -- the audience at Mayawati's rallies was far more responsive that those who converged at Sonia's rallies.
There is also a difference in the confidence levels displayed by the two. Bubbling with enthusiasm and confidence of riding to power in the state, Mayawati added spice to her speeches by assuring her audience that she would punish all those who had wronged the state or the Dalit cause. On the other hand, Sonia had little to offer -- not even an air of confidence.
While Mayawati is focused on impressing upon the electorate that she will form the next government in the state on her own, Sonia was busy harping on the party's much beaten line -- that non-Congress regimes were responsible for UP's misrule. Except for making promises that Congress alone could 'restore the lost glory of the state' -- the line followed by Prime Minister Mamnohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi as well -- there was not much that Sonia had to offer as any concrete example.
In sharp contrast was also the fact that as against a full contingent of leaders who accompany Sonia at most of her rallies, Mayawati remains the sole campaigner for her outfit.
It was coincidence on Sunday when the two women leaders landed in Barabanki (35 km from state's capital Lucknow). Not only were the two venues barely two km apart but there was also a gap of just about two hours between the two rallies.
Except for the beginning when UP Congress chief Salman Khurshid managed to elicit responses from the crowds to his query whether they wanted change in UP, the impressive gathering at the Sonia show looked quite docile and somewhat ambivalent.
On the other hand, the gathering at Mayawati's rally remained vibrant throughout. Each time the BSP chief would give a call of taking up something or even when she flayed her bete noire Mulayam Singh Yadav, the UP chief minister, the crowds would respond with spontaneous applause.
As against the presence of a large number of tractor-trolleys and trucks around the venue of the BSP rally, one noticed large number of buses, cars, and jeeps outside the Congress assembly.
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