Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday held a road show in Sultanpur, where his cousin Varun Gandhi is contesting on a BJP ticket, ahead of filing his nomination from Amethi constituency which will go to the polls on May 7.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Robert Vadra and senior leader and family loyalist Capt Satish Sharma and UPCC chief Nirmal Khatri accompanied him.
Mr. Rahul will be reaching Amethi along with party supporters after participating in the roadshow on a 42-km stretch between Amhart in Sultanpur and Gauriganj in Amethi.
The event has evoked curosity as this is for the first time Mr. Rahul is organising such a political campaign from a constituency where another Gandhi family member if fighting against a Congress candidate.
Mr. Rahul’s cousin Varun Gandhi is the BJP candidate from Sultanpur. He is pitted against Congress nominee Amita Singh, wife of Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, who had won from the seat in 2009.
Mr. Rahul’s roadshow covered 16-km distance in Sultanpur parliamentary constituency. Locals say it is quite unusual that a Gandhi family member is carrying out such a political procession in support of party candidate against another family member. They have so far refrained from campaigning in each other’s constituency.
Ms. Amita along with husband also received Mr. Gandhi at the airport in Sultanpur and accompanied him in the roadshow.
Mr. Varun, who is the son of Maneka and Sanjay Gandhi, had contested the last Lok Sabha seat from Pilbhit and won by over three lakh votes. After shifting to Sultanpur seat, he has been reaching out to people telling them that Sultanpur was the ‘karmbhoomi” of his late father.
Mr. Varun has not mentioned BJP prime Minister pick Narendra Modi’s name in his campaigning so far. Neighbouring two constituencies are represented by Ms. Sonia and Mr. Rahul.
The Gandhi family travelling in a white SUV received a warm welcome from people who showered flower petals and raised slogans in their favour.
Ms. Sonia and Mr. Rahul Gandhi paid a visit to a local resident Kamruddin in Panha village and asked about his family’s well being.
In an informal chat in Dhammaur area, Ms. Priyanka was queried about BJP fielding Smriti Irani against Mr. Rahul.
“Everyone who comes to Amethi is welcome. There is an arrangement in democracy for everyone to contest election”, she said.
When asked whether she expects Rahul to win by bigger margin, she replied “it will all be known later”.