Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who has not campaigned at all for the Uttar Pradesh elections, has written a letter one day before voting is held in her parliamentary constituency Raebareli, accusing the Modi government of "deliberately" depriving people of the centre's welfare schemes.
- Mrs Gandhi's letter comes a day before Raebareli goes to polls
- This is the first time she skipped an election campaign there
- She fell ill the last time she campaigned -- in Varanasi in August
Mrs Gandhi has said she could not visit UP "due to some reasons" and has urged people to vote for the Congress, alleging that the BJP has betrayed them after the big mandate that the state gave Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party in the national elections three years ago. "Instead of bringing the acchey din (good days) promised, they have snatched the little you had," she writes.
Sources said the decision to issue a vote appeal was taken after the Congress President cancelled a visit to Raebareli earlier this week. Mrs Gandhi has been ill and had to cut short a road show midway in Varanasi last year.
In her letter she said Raebareli and adjoining Amethi, her son and deputy Rahul Gandhi's parliamentary constituency, are "an integral part of our lives... ours is a special relationship, the biggest asset of my life". While Raebareli votes tomorrow in the fourth phase, Amethi votes on Monday in the fifth phase of the UP elections, being held on seven days.
The BJP has alleged that the Gandhis have not looked after the people of the only two constituencies the party had won in UP in the national election. Union Minister Smriti Irani said last week that Mrs Gandhi's daughter Priyanka Gandhi, who politically nurtures the two constituencies, was shying away from campaigning this time because the Congress' first family did not have much to show in terms of work done for the people. Priyanka Gandhi has so far made what was described as a guest appearance at her brother Rahul Gandhi's rally in Raebareli, making a short speech that attacked PM Modi ferociously.
"The central government is depriving you of welfare programmes deliberately and I am deeply pained to see this happening," Sonia Gandhi said in her letter and added, "Have you ever come across a government that works against its own people, tries to weaken them? These people are working for the welfare of only a handful of industrialists and the poor have to pay for it".
This is the first time that the 70-year-old Congress chief has missed an election campaign since she took charge of the party in 1998. Her party is contesting this year's election in partnership with Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party and allocation of the ten assembly seats in Rae Bareli and Amethi was a major prestige point. The Congress wanted to contest all ten but Mr Yadav insisted that the two parties field candidates in five each.
In at least two where the Congress candidates have insisted contesting, the two allies will fight each other.