Sonia Skirts NCP-Cong Alliance Issue
Skirting the issue of alliance with NCP, Sonia Gandhi virtually kicked off her party's campaign for the October 13 Assembly elections in Maharashtra with a call to workers to keep the Congress flag "flying high" and ensure it wins maximum number of seats.
During a brief visit to Mumbai, she avoided taking the name of her party's alliance partner of the last 10 years and said she was confident that the Congress would emerge victorious in the Assembly elections.
"The enthusiasm and vigour with which you worked in the recent Lok Sabha polls gives me confidence that the Congress will emerge victorious in the Maharashtra Assembly elections once again," Gandhi told party workers, inaugurating the renovated Mumbai Congress headquarters named after her husband late Rajiv Gandhi.
Without naming the coalition partner NCP, she said the Congress-led government in the state was doing good work for the uplift and welfare of the common man, especially backward classes and farmers.
Congress and NCP are sharing power in the state for the last 10 years and had fought elections together in 2004. Suspense continues over seat-sharing between the two parties in the coming polls with speculation high that Sharad Pawar's party might settle for less number of seats than around 120 seats it contested last time in the 288-member Assembly.
Pawar had said yesterday that he would like the alliance to continue and not not break over a few seats.
Describing Mumbai as the "pride of India", Gandhi said the UPA as well as the state government is taking steps to make the megapolis, a "world class city with infrastructure of international standards".
Gandhi said the programmes and policies of the UPA government in the last five years had benefited the common man and the electorate had endorsed the work of the government by giving it a tremendous mandate in the recent Lok Sabha polls after 1991.
Gandhi said, she was experiencing a strong sense of responsibility and fond memories while inaugurating the Mumbai unit office.
"Congress is not just a political party but a broad mass movement. Empowering the common man is the ultimate aim of the party," she said, adding that all the tall leaders of the party had worked tirelessly towards nation building.
"Their contribution continues to remind us of our responsibility as Congress workers," she said.
Maharashtra had given the country some tallest leaders like Lokmanya Tilak, B R Ambedkar, Chhatrapti Shahu Maharaj, Mahatma Phule, Dadabhai Naoroji, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, She said.