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Rahul insipid in Vajpayee's bastion
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow | April 24, 2007 04:54 IST
As the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections entered the fifth phase, the question in most observers' lips was whether the Congress' star campaigner Rahul Gandhi would have any impact in former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's bastion, Lucknow.
Here's the answer.
Rahul paid a brief cursory visit to the state capital on Monday evening.
Rahul, who has been touring the state for the past few weeks, appeared tentative throughout his two-and-a-half-hour road show in Vajpayee's pocket burrow.
Making a dent in this constituency was tough for Rahul not just because of Vajpayee popularity. The Bharatiya Janata Party has been controlling the civic body also for more than a decade. Also, four of the five local assembly constituencies are in the BJP's kitty.
A half empty tiny park greeted Rahul in the walled city. Sure enough, a crowd of less than 2000 was not what the scion of India's number one political family was expecting at his first ever political meeting in the state capital.
Even the road show, which began from the airport where he arrived around 5 pm after a full day's toil, did not draw as much crowd as was witnessed on his trips to several other places across the state.
Being driven through city thoroughfares, Rahul did make an effort to reach out to the bystanders in some parts of the town where they showered rose petals on the vehicle, atop which he stood to acknowledge their greetings.
As it got late and no prior arrangements were in place for any night roadside meetings, Rahul was rushed to a hotel for night halt, leaving not only the public but even his own party nominees somewhat disappointed. After all, he did not have the time to even drive past each of the five assembly constituencies in the state capital.
Many local candidates were unhappy for being deprived of an opportunity to have the most charismatic party leader come to their assistance at a time when they needed him most.
However, with time running out, Rahul perhaps had little choice but to focus only on constituencies where the Congress party was seen as a potential player. And clearly, barring two assembly constituencies, the Congress is in the fray only for namesake.