UPA in poll mode, mega rally in Delhi
By Tarun Nangia | ENS | Published: 04th November 2012 08:41 AM |
The First Family of the Congress party is hitting the streets in style with a Maha Rally from 11 am onwards on Ramlila Maidan on Sunday. More than a quarter of a million are expected to attend this largest-in-decades Congress rally in support of FDI in retail. It’s also being perceived as the party’s opening gambit for the 2014 election campaign.
On the symbolic grounds where the effigy of Ravan is burnt every Dussehra, three stages have been put up. The first—a special high security rostrum—is the showpiece platform, to be exclusively occupied by Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and DPPC president J P Agarwal. On the second stage will be Cabinet ministers, Congress chief ministers, AICC members and district presidents from all over the country. From the Union Cabinet, P Chidambaram, Sushilkumar Shinde, Salman Khurshid, Anand Sharma, Veerappa Moily, Jayanti Natarajan, Jairam Ramesh, Ghulam Nabi Azad are some of the ministers who will be on stage. Keeping them company will be chief ministers of all Congress-ruled states—Oommen Chandy from Kerala, Kiran Kumar Reddy from Andhra Pradesh, Bhupinder Singh Hooda from Haryana, Ashok Gehlot from Rajasthan, Tarun Gogoi from Assam and Mukul Sangma from Meghalaya; a party source said that the CMs were instructed by Sonia to attend, and “it was not a request”. The source also said that though the rally was being held to garner support for FDI, it was in reality a “show of strength” by the party. Sonia has also issued instructions that all Congress Legislature Party leaders, PCC chiefs and MPs from non-Congress-ruled states also to be present. “A control room has been established at the DPCC office for co-ordination. Around two lakh people would attend the rally,” said DPCC president J P Agarwal.
The third stage is meant for cultural performances by a troupe of 17 artistes who will take the party’s message to the people. The rally may become a political slugfest with Congress leaders likely to attack BJP president Nitin Gadkari for corruption and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on being anti-minorities. The party will counter Subramanian Swamy and Arvind Kejriwal’s corruption charges against the Gandhi family. According to Congress general secretary B K Hariprasad, the Congress “will showcase the UPA’s achievements in the last eight years and expose the opposition and disinformation campaign launched by civil society.”