Congress President Sonia Gandhi is arriving in Nagpur on August 31 and will grace the concluding function of Rajiv Gandhi Chaitanya Yatra (Rally) which is beginning from Aurangabad on August 20. The Congress leaders have been apprised of the visit of the party chief. Sonia Gandhi’s visit to city in view of coming Assembly elections in Maharashtra is likely to enthuse a new life into the sagging morale of party workers in Vidarbha post-Lok Sabha defeat, said some Congress leaders.
According to sources, the idea of Rajiv Gandhi Chaitanya Yatra has been floated by veteran party leader Ranjit Deshmukh, once a rebel, to establish his loyalty to party again. Deshmukh, with the idea in his mind, had gone to Delhi to meet Sonia Gandhi and convince her on the all-important rally. But the Party President refused to meet Deshmukh. Not to be bogged down, Deshmukh met Ahmed Patel, the Political Adviser to Sonia and explained to him the finer and advantageous points of the Rally. Satisfied by the idea, Patel facilitated Deshmukh’s meeting with Sonia Gandhi. Impressed by Deshmukh’s plan, Sonia immediately ranged Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and MPCC President Manikrao Thakre and directed both of them to work on the idea and arrange the programme that will boost Congress chances in the coming elections.
The sources further said that the senior Congress leader Deshmukh had held a meeting with his supporters at Ravi Bhavan on August 14. In the meeting, Deshmukh recalled that the former Prime Minister the late Indira Gandhi had revived Congress fortune by taking a whirlwind tour of Vidarbha after a upheaval in her political career and party as well. Subsequently, Congress came to life not only in Vidarbha but across the country. The party is now facing the same situation after a rout in Lok Sabha elections. Hence the idea of Rajiv Gandhi Chaitanya Yatra was floated in view of Assembly elections. The workers present in the meeting were told that around 200 four-wheelers would leave Nagpur for Aurangabad on August 19. The cars and other four-wheelers will have 8-10 workers and the buses will take 25-30 Congressmen and the workers were directed to gather people in large numbers for participating in the Rally. The list of participants has to be submitted on August 18. A senior worker will be given responsibility of each vehicle and will also be given Rs 40,000 for managing the expenses. The total expenses of Yatra are likely to be around Rs 1 crore and is likely be borne by Deshmukh himself. The yatra will cover 2000 kilometers.
The Rajiv Gandhi Chaitanya Yatra will culminate in Nagpur and the concluding programme will be held at Mankapur Sports Complex on August 31. Sonia Gandhi will attend the programme. The responsibility of arranging the high-profile programme has been given to Nagpur’s Guardian Minister Nitin Raut.
A number of meetings have been scheduled at various places during the Aurangabad-Nagpur Rally. Every meeting will be attended by around 1500 workers in a show of strength and the workers would be taken from Nagpur itself to avoid any embarrassment.