"Handing Over My Son To You": Sonia Gandhi's Pitch For Rahul At Raebareli Rally

Rahul Gandhi, 53, will square off against BJP's Dinesh Pratap Singh.

Sonia Gandhi addressing a poll rally in Raebareli

Sonia Gandhi turned up as the star campaigner for her son Rahul Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh's Raebareli, telling the crowd that she is handing over her son to them and that he, in turn, won't disappoint them.

Rahul Gandhi is contesting from the family stronghold of Raebareli, a seat represented by his mother Sonia Gandhi, 77, who moved to the Rajya Sabha earlier this year.

"Main aapko apna beta saup rahi hoon (I am handing over my son to you)," said Mrs Gandhi to a huge round of applause in Raebareli - a seat she represented five times.  

"Jaisa aapne mujhe apna maana, waise hi Rahul lo apna maan kar rakhna hai. Ye Rahul aap ko niraash nahi karenge (The way you treated me as yours, now treat Rahul the same way. He will not disappoint you)," she underscored.

"I taught the same lessons to Rahul and Priyanka which Indira Gandhi and the people of Raebareli had taught me. To respect all, protect the weak, fight against injustice for the rights of people. Don't be afraid, because your roots of struggle and traditions are very deep," said Mrs Gandhi, who was first elected as an MP from Raebareli in 2004.

Sonia Gandhi also thanked the people of Raebareli for electing her.

"I am happy that I have got the opportunity to be amongst you after a long time. I am grateful to you from the bottom of my heart. My head is bowed in reverence before you. You have given me the opportunity to serve as an MP for 20 years. This is the biggest asset of my life," she said.

Mr Gandhi, 53, will square off against BJP's Dinesh Pratap Singh.

"Raebareli is my family, similarly Amethi is also my home. Not only are the tender memories of my life associated with this place but the roots of our family are also connected to this soil for the last 100 years. This relationship, as sacred as Mother Ganga, started with the farmers' movement of Awadh and Raebareli which continues till today," said Mrs Gandhi, in Hindi, with daughter Priyanka and son Rahul standing right behind her.

The prestige seat has been represented by Mr Gandhi's grandmother, Indira Gandhi, and grandfather, Feroze Gandhi, in the Lok Sabha.

Polling in Raebareli and nearby Amethi will be held in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections on May 20.

In Amethi, Union Minister Smriti Irani is pitted against Congress candidate Kishori Lal Sharma, a longtime loyalist of the Gandhi family.

"I came here for the first time 42 years ago with my father (Rajiv Gandhi). Whatever I have learned about politics, it has been taught to me by the Amethi public. At that time, there were no roads and no development. And I have witnessed the relationship of love between the people here and my father," said Rahul Gandhi seeking votes for Congress candidate Kishori Lal Sharma.

"And that is also (my style) of politics. So, you do not think that I am contesting from Raebareli... I was, am and will belong to the Amethi," he underlined.

Polling for 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh is being held across all seven phases. The votes will be counted on June 4.