- At the rally, Rahul Gandhi will ask people to vote for Varsha Gaikwad
- He has just returned from Cambodia, where he had gone to "meditate"
- Mr Gandhi is later expected to campaign in Latur and Vidarbha districts
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will campaign for the Maharashtra assembly elections in Mumbai on Sunday, making his first poll-related appearance since the dates were announced last month. He has just returned from Cambodia, where he was said to have gone to meditate.
Rahul Gandhi will address a rally at Dharavi on Sunday evening, news agency PTI quoted Mumbai Congress chief Eknath Gaikwad as saying. He will be canvassing for votes on behalf of Mr Gaikwad's daughter, Varsha, who is seeking re-election from the assembly constituency for the fourth term.
Varsha Gaikwad had served as the All India Congress Committee secretary for the Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh assembly polls during Rahul Gandhi's tenure as party chief.
Rahul Gandhi's appearance on the campaign trail will put to rest claims by rival political parties that he is still in a sulk after the Congress' disastrous performance under his leadership in the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year.
Just yesterday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had portrayed Rahul Gandhi's absence from the election trail as an indication that the state opposition has already given up hope of winning the upcoming elections. "They are already in a defeatist frame of mind. I read in the newspapers that Rahul Gandhi is in Bangkok," he said at a rally in Dhule district.
The Congress is contesting 31 seats in Mumbai, leaving five for the NCP. In 2014, Congress had won only five seats in the city.
PTI quoted state Congress sources as saying that Rahul Gandhi will then address a rally in Latur region in support of late Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh's sons Amit and Dheeraj. A rally is also being planned in Vidarbha on Sunday morning, they added.
Rahul Gandhi will return to the state for another round of campaigning on October 15, sources said.
Maharashtra will go to the polls on October 21, and the votes will be counted three days later.
(With inputs from PTI)
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