A spell of illness that hit Congress president Sonia Gandhi during her roadshow in Varanasi on Monday and the party vice-president Rahul Gandhi delivering his speech while braving heavy rains in Lucknow on Saturday are the two incidents that have bolstered the party’s campaign for the coming polls in Uttar Pradesh.

Ms.Gandhi’s withdrawal from the last lap of six km-long road show succeeded in setting the right emotional tone in the party’s State unit.

“We feel that she [Ms.Gandhi] fell sick because of us,” said Bhagwati Chaudhary, the head of party’s Schedule Caste cell in Uttar Pradesh. “It is this sense of guilt that has brought everyone together and has added new energy in every worker.”

Mr.Chaudhary said that Ms.Gandhi’s arrival moved every Congress worker since they are aware of her long-standing illness, which sometimes takes her to the U.S. for medical examination.

“Her arrival and her departure because of illness have defeated factionalism in the party,” said Mr.Choudhary. “Toward the end of the road show people did notice Rajesh Mishra and Rajesh Tripathi standing together on the front of the car.”

According to Mr.Chaudhary, Mr.Mishra and Mr.Tripathi — both former MLCs from Banaras — represent two factions in Varanasi and each is supported by a sizeable number of party workers.

Taking the BJP head on

The intend behind holding a road show in Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Modi, was to send a message to the people that the party is ready to take the ruling BJP head on.

“I have never seen so many people in a political rally,” said Uma Shankar Pandey, a secretary at Youth Congress.

Mr.Pandey has campaigned for the party in previous state elections. Compared to it, he said, the mood in the party is “electrifying.”

“Previously, workers felt [Congress] leaders in Delhi don’t want to form government [in U.P.]. But this time they think leaders are serious to form the government,” said Mr.Pandey.

Mr.Pandey exuded confidence that electoral wave in U.P. is turning in favour of Congress. He reasons it with the party’s recent decision of hosting a rally at Ramabahi Amdebkar Park on Saturday, in which Rahul Gandhi addressed a large crowd. “It is a huge ground. In previous elections, the Congress never organised anything there because the leadership feared lower crowd attendance. But this time, it was jam packed even though it was raining.”

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