Sonia Gandhi cuts short Varanasi roadshow due to ill health; rushed to Delhi hospital
Congress president Sonia Gandhi earlier on Tuesday led a massive roadshow in Varanasi, kicking off the party's campaign for the 2017 Assembly Elections in Uttar Pradesh.
New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who had to leave the party's impressive roadshow in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's parliamentary constituency Varanasi midway due to high fever, returned to the national capital on Tuesday night.
After receiving treatment at the VIP lounge of the Varanasi airport, Sonia arrived in Delhi accompanied by Varanasi CMO and a cardiologist.
She was taken to Army's Research and Referral hospital for a check-up, party leaders said.
Sonia Gandhi's daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and son Rahul Gandhi, along with other Congress leaders, received her at the Delhi airport.
Meanwhile, Priyanka Gandhi said "She was unwell for the last couple of days before but since the programme was there, she was very keen to go."
Congress general secretary and UP in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters at the airport that Sonia Gandhi was suffering from dehydration which led to fever, but was stable now.
In a statement, Sonia said that she was saddened to cut short her Varanasi visit due to ill-health. Thanking the people of Varanasi for their support, Sonia said: "I will come back very soon, and then visit the Kashi Vishwanath Temple."
In the meantime, Prime Minister Narendra Modi prayed for Sonia Gandhi's quick recovery and good health and spoke to Congress' chief ministerial candidate Sheila Dikshit to inquire about her party chief's condition.
Gandhi, who reached Varanasi earlier on Tuesday to launch the party's campaign for 2017 Assembly Elections in Uttar Pradesh, took ill towards the fag end of the eight-km march route and had to abort it.
She was taken to a lodge where doctors attended to her and advised her rest. Ghanshyam Srivastava, a doctor who attended to her, said she was feeling dehydrated and running high blood pressure (88-172) as well as fever. Local Congress MLA Ajai Rai said Gandhi was put on a saline drip at the Varanasi airport. The hospital at Banaras Hindu University(BHU) had also been alerted, he said.
The 69-year-old Gandhi also cancelled her planned visit to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in the evening to offer prayers.
The sources said that Gandhi was suffering from viral fever but had decided to go ahead with the roadshow as she was not inclined to cancel it at the last minute.
The roadshow, which continued for about three hours, was halted for some time at the Lohurabir roundabout near the fag end of the eight-km march route from the Circuit House to Englishiya Line. The roadshow later proceeded without Gandhi.
The sources said Gandhi complained of uneasiness and after taking rest for some time, she left the area.
Thousands of Congress supporters and workers took part in the roadshow.
It was Gandhi's first visit to Varanasi after Modi became Prime Minister in May 2014.
The march began with Gandhi garlanding the statue of BR Ambedkar at the Circuit House and the marchers crisscrossed lanes and bylanes of the temple town.
Gandhi, who was initially travelling in a car and later moved to a vehicle with an open sunroof, waved at the crowd which cheered and raised slogans against the Modi government.
She came out of her vehicle several times to accept the greetings of the cheering supporters, including groups of Muslim women. As the roadshow passed through several localities, rose petals were showered on Gandhi and her cavalcade from adjoining buildings.
Dozens of mini trucks prominently displayed posters with '27 Saal, UP Behaal' (27 years of UP's distress) written on them. Placards carried by hundreds of workers also had the same slogan written on them.
Besides the party's chief ministerial candidate Sheila Dikshit, AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad, state party chief Raj Babbar and senior leaders Pramod Tiwari and Sanjay Singh accompanied Gandhi. Babbar expressed the hope there will be a "miracle" in favour of his party in the elections.
Earlier, Gandhi flew in here for a day-long programme in Modi's constituency and was led by hundreds of bikers, waving party flags from the airport to the heart of the city.
Congress has launched a campaign "dard-e-Banaras" to highlight the lack of development in Varanasi, which Modi is representing for over two years in the Lok Sabha.
Congress has been out of power for 27 years in Uttar Pradesh and is projecting that the state has gone from bad to worse in these years through a campaign, called '27 Saal, UP Behaal'.
(With Agency inputs)