Special Correspondent

Congress hopeful Rahul Gandhi will help improve party's electoral prospects

  • KHURJA: As campaigning for the second phase of elections in Uttar Pradesh drew to a close on Wednesday, the State received wide attention from the leaders of major political parties. Polling will take place in 58 constituencies in the western parts of the State on Friday.

    In the last two days, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh, senior BJP leader Kalyan Singh, UP Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh and Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Ajit Singh have campaigned in the region.

    In a sudden change of tack, forced partially due to the delayed permission accorded by the local authorities, the Congress pressed into service its most sought after campaigner Rahul Gandhi, who embarked on a road-show on Wednesday. Mr. Gandhi visited the Aligarh constituency on Monday to campaign for sitting legislator Vivek Bansal, but could not go to all areas. The Congress said the local administration initially refused to give him permission to hold meetings that evening and when they did, it was too late to re-organise the schedule. Congress leaders in UP and New Delhi were optimistic that Mr. Gandhi's programme would yield electoral benefits, even though he himself maintained that the mass contact programme was not aimed at the elections alone.

    "Through his campaign, Mr. Gandhi has initiated a debate on the need for change in the system. He has emerged as the most credible face after the people of the State lost hope, having experienced other political leaders in the last 18 years. His jan sampark is bound to alter the existing voting patterns," Congress leader Mohan Prakash said in New Delhi. Unlike in the first phase, during which Mr. Gandhi ended his campaign just a day before Ms. Sonia Gandhi began hers, on Wednesday both were in the field.

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