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Sonia not looking for safer seat: Congress
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi |
April 08, 2003 19:37 IST
Congress leaders have denied that party president Sonia Gandhi is seeking a 'safer' parliamentary constituency.
A report had suggested that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati has increased her party's influence in Amethi, the Congress stronghold that Gandhi represents in the Lok Sabha.
Because of that Gandhi is thinking of contesting the general election from Amethi as well as Kaliabor in Assam, the report had suggested.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's brother Deep represents Kaliabor right now.
"There is no plan for madam [Sonia] to leave the Amethi seat. Even last time her detractors had claimed that she would perform poorly, but she won with a record margin," Assam Pradesh Congress Committee chief Paban Singh Ghatowar, who represents Dibrugarh, told rediff.com on Monday.
"But if she wants to contest from Assam, we would welcome it. Our party is well entrenched in Assam and the people will only be too happy to vote for madam," Ghatowar said.
In November 2002, the Congress president's daughter, Priyanka Vadra, had taken up the cause of a Dalit in Punnpur village near Amethi.
An upper-caste Thakur had allegedly demolished the Dalit's house, but the district administration had ignored the incident. The Amethi sub-divisional magistrate, on being confronted by Vadra, assured her that the Dalit's house would be rebuilt.
The chief minister, apparently, could not stomach Vadra's sympathy towards the Dalits, whose cause she espouses, and decided to call a rally on December 11.
Although Mayawati had a lot of people transported to Amethi, she miscalculated the electorate's loyalty towards the Congress. The rally proved to be a washout.
However, the state unit of the Congress is far from healthy and there are indications that it is facing a shortage of funds.
Reports suggest that the staff at the Congress office in Lucknow barely gets salary, with the result that many office-bearers rarely bother to come.
"This is not a good sign. Such reports give the impression that the party leadership has lost heart about its electoral prospects in UP. After all, Soniaji fights from Amethi," said a veteran party leader.