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Andhra Pradesh - Vijayawada Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Congress leadership shines; workers disappointed

By R. Balaji

VIJAYAWADA, MARCH 12. While the Congress leadership is delighted at the tumultuous response to the AICC president, Sonia Gandhi's public meeting here today, it, however, left thousands of workers squirming and disappointed as they failed to gain entry into the venue to have a glimpse of their leader.

Undeterred by the scorching sun and absence of any shamianas at the sprawling ground, the crowd came in droves to hear Ms. Gandhi, who addressed her maiden meeting in the city. Lotus Land Mark Grounds, the venue of the meeting, was packed to its capacity by 3 p.m. As a result, many party workers started trekking back to the parking lots where their buses and lorries were stationed. "I could not hear what Ms. Gandhi spoke as by the time I reached the venue it was fully packed,'' a disappointed farmer, K. Robert, from Edupugallu near Kankipadu said.

For P. Emanuel, a party sympathiser from Ongole town, it was a big disappointment in not being able to make it to the venue. "We started at 9.30 a.m. But by the time we reached the venue, there is no space left for us. So, we have to return without having a glimpse of her,'' he lamented. Interestingly, till 1.30 p.m., there was only a small trickle of people to the venue. But by 3 p.m., the venue was full of milling crowds, leaving the late troopers strand outside. At the venue, it was a virtual riot of the party flags, festoons, badges and posters of Ms. Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Indira Gandhi.

With the special buses and lorries parked about 5-6 km away from the venue, the crowd including hundreds of women braved the scorching afternoon heat to walk the long route to attend the meeting. In fact, even after Ms. Gandhi concluded her address, hundreds of men and women waited patiently till the AICC leader boarded the helicopter to waved at her. They started leaving the venue only after the chopper disappeared form their sight.

"From my grandfather's days, we have been sympathisers of the Congress. I have attended the meetings of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi also,'' said a 70-year-old Arvapalli Nancharamma of Penamaluru, who despite her age and hunchback came. For the scores of petty kiosks and vendors, it was a day of roaring business.

"If I slog out the whole day, I get a profit of about Rs. 300. But today, I exhausted my stock in just two hours,'' said an elated K. Tirupathi, a watermelon vendor. Sugarcane juice vendors, cool drink shops and dairy parlous did a brisk business as the teeming crowd choose to hunt these shops for some respite from the soaring mercury. The press enclosure, too, was most of the time occupied by party workers and leaders.

It was only after the District Congress Committee president, Mandali Budda Prasad, repeatedly pleaded over the public address system, did the cadre vacate the seats for the newsmen.

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