People waiting to catch a glimpse of Priyanka Gandhi at the Burlington crossing in Lucknow were unable to recall when they had last witnessed a ‘road show’ of the Indian National Congress. They were also unanimous in declaring that it was a very good show when the newly appointed general secretaries in charge of Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia, accompanied by party president Rahul Gandhi moved through crowded roads to the Congress Bhavan.
The motorcade crawled through enthusiastic party workers and curious onlookers. It took nearly four hours to cover the 12 kilometre distance and the sense of euphoria among Congress workers was unmistakable.
Remarkably, the Congress president merely had to raise a cardboard replica of the Rafale to prompt people break into laughter. “Rafale, Rafale”, shouted some while another section of the crowd on their own raised the slogan, ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’.
If there was disappointment at Priyanka Gandhi not addressing the crowd during the roadshow, it was not expressed. In his own brief address which lasted all of four minutes, party president Rahul Gandhi declared that while the immediate objective was undoubtedly the Lok Sabha election, the party’s ultimate aim was to revive the party in the state and wrest power.
“Uttar Pradesh is the heart of the country. I have appointed Priyanka and Scindia ji (Jyotiraditya Scindia) as general secretaries. I have asked them to fight against the injustice prevailing in Uttar Pradesh. We will bat on the front foot. Till we do not form government of Congress ideology we will not rest in peace,” he said.
Referring to a report in The Hindu this morning, he said, “ “Chowkidar ne paisa chori kiya (Chowkidar has stolen people’s money). Read The Hindu newspaper where it has written how the PMO conducted parallel negotiations to extend business to his friend Anil Ambani who earned ₹30,000 crore from the deal,” the Congress president added.
Priyanka Gandhi, who accompanied Rahul Gandhi did not address the people as the road show was already running late by over an hour.
Initially, Rahul allowed his sister, who has been appointed as the in-charge of Eastern UP, to hold the centre stage when the roadshow started from Amausi airport. Later, all the three leaders stood together as the makeshift bus crawled through the multitude of people.
The crowd showered flowers on the leaders as Priyanka waived back at the crowd or clasped her palms to say Namaste. “She looks like Indira, doesn’t she”, exclaimed Rehan Safdar, a retired teacher. “I have seen Indira and can vouch Priyanka has a close resemblance with her,” he said.
He even said that the way Priyanka has pulled crowd is a testimony of her popularity which is akin to Indira’s popularity.
A senior Congress leader claimed that around one lakh Congress supporters from different parts of the state and even from adjoining Uttarakhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have arrived in Lucknow on Monday morning to welcome Priyanka.