Though bad audio arrangements and her stilted Hindi robbed the scathing 13-minute attack of much of its sting, Sonia held the BJP squarely responsible for all institutional maladies and corruption in Jharkhand, linking it with rise in Naxalism.
“A few days ago, the Prime Minister came here to seek your blessings to serve Jharkhand with all his tall talks and promises. Will you ask him what his party (the BJP) did all these years for Jharkhand as the party ruled this state for around nine years? Have you got roads, power, schools; hospitals? The BJP did nothing for this state,” Sonia said.
Campaigning at noon for Daltonganj and Bishrampur MLA candidates K.N. Tripathi and Ajay Dubey in Daltonganj, Sonia later went to Gumla, a Lohardaga (LS) Assembly seat with significant minority voters, from where her party has fielded former IAS Binod Kispotta.
In both Daltonganj and Gumla, Sonia’s theme was the same — attacking Modi and BJP for their “gimmicks” and, like her son Rahul did at Panki yesterday, trumpeting the Congress-led UPA regime for its empowering laws for tribals and the marginalised.
“They (the BJP) ruled the state for nine years when Naxalism spread across 22 districts of the state. It was because of wrong and devious policies adopted by the BJP governments,” Sonia said.
“All the important welfare projects and legislations were enacted by the UPA for the poor and oppressed. The BJP ruled Jharkhand most of the times but never showed any interest in implementing them,” she claimed.
She repeated what Rahul had told in Panki. “One by one, the Modi government will either scrap or radically change all important legislations and decisions taken by the UPA.”
“It was the UPA which gave you the Minor Forest Product Act to benefit tribals,” she said. “If my party forms the government in Jharkhand, it will bring a legislation to ensure people to get first right on natural resources.”
“Power, road, healthcare, human resource development are our top priority,” she said.
Warning people not to be swayed by Modi, Sonia gave one punch line: “Aap agar babool boyenge to aam to nahin milega. Sirf Congress hi desh ki sthiti sudhar sakti hai.”
The crowd cheered twice: “Sonia Gandhi zindabad, Sonia tum sangharsh karo hum tumhare saath hain.”
In minority-dominated Gumla, which like Daltonganj and Bishrampur, goes to polls on November 25, Sonia said the Congress was the only party in the country that “took all communities along”.
“The BJP is carrying forward programmes initiated during the UPA regime. They have built up a campaign misinforming people,” she told the 10,000-plus crowd at Gumla’s Albert Ekka stadium.
Inevitable comparisons between her and Modi ensued.
“When she speaks it seems that she is reading a text. Modi speaks spontaneously, makes people laugh and relax. I will vote for the Congress but Sonia is no match for Modi in oratory,” said one Manohar Kamat in Daltonganj who attended Modi’s rally also. Many others in Daltonganj complained they could not hear her properly due poor audio.
Lower turnout compared to Modi’s rally prompted the BJP to dub Sonia’s “a flop show”. “Footfall suggests the Gandhis have lost their appeal,” said BJP leader Sanjay Singh.
Sonia supporters differed. “The media multiplies by 10 BJP’s hype. In case of the Congress, everything is downplayed. Modi is controlling the media,” said one Md Irfan.
-The Telegraph, Calcutta