Sonia skips local issues in favour of Central initiatives

Sonia skips local issues in favour of Central initiatives

Bhiteda, Rajasthan: Meera, who uses only one name, came to listen to Sonia Gandhi here in Rajasthan’s Alwar district because she hopes the Congress president alone can help her get a ration card she needs to buy subsidized food grains as well as cast her vote in the next election.

“We do not have any identity proof, not even ration cards," she said. “There is no water in our village. (Rajasthan chief minister) Vasundhara Raje did nothing for us, even though she came to our area and we garlanded her."

Meera was one of some 100,000 people who are estimated to have attended Gandhi’s first rally in the state since the elections to the 200 member state assembly were announced for 4 December. It is too late for Meera to obtain an identity card and vote in the state election though national elections are due sometime early 2009.

The crowds began collecting in this eastern Rajasthan village since around 10am, while Gandhi would only arrive late by helicopter.

Gandhi chose to skirt local issues that appeal to Meera and focused on the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government’s “achievements" such the signing of a nuclear deal with the US.

“Our aim is to increase the targets of electricity supply, which is why we signed the nuclear deal," said Gandhi. “Farmers and poor households will benefit directly from it."

Gandhi also attacked the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, government in the state for poor “implementation of Central schemes."

The Congress is fighting an uphill battle in Rajasthan to dethrone the BJP.