Sonia visits Rae Bareli for the first time after poll debacle

Sonia Gandhi on Thursday announced sops, during her first visit to her Lok Sabha constituency after the party`s defeat in UP assembly elections.

Rae Bareli: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday announced sops, including setting up of a girls degree college, during her first visit to her Lok Sabha constituency after the party`s humiliating defeat in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

Regretting that she had not been able to visit her parliamentary constituency for a long time due to "personal reasons", Gandhi said Rae Bareli was the "karmbhoomi" of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and she would continue to work for its development.

The Congress failed to win any assembly seat in this Nehru-Gandhi family pocketborough this time. It ended with a seat tally of 28 in the state, dashing party`s hopes after it did surprisingly well in the last Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress president today laid the foundation stone of the project on four-lane widening of 70 kms of the National Highway between Lucknow-Rae Bareli at a cost of over Rs. 635 crores and two lane paved shoulder widening of 106 kms between Rae Bareli-Allahabad at the cost of over Rs. 291 crores.

These projects include three by-pass, three railway overbridges and two major bridges.

Speaking in the presence of Union minister for road transport C P Joshi, Gandhi underlined the need for a ring road for Rae Bareli which was promptly accepted by the minister.

Underlining the importance of education, she said, "It is my wish that a women degree college should be constructed in the name of Indira Gandhi as Rae Bareli was her karmbhoomi. This is so that daughters here can get higher education."

Gandhi said that UPA government has taken concrete steps in the field of education. "Approval has been given for one model school in every block and 75 per cent of the cost is being given by the UPA government."

In Uttar Pradesh money has been provided for 148 schools of which work for three such schools in Rae Bareli was going on, she said.

The Congress leader today met partymen including representatives of district Congress Committee, youth wing, NSUI, women wing, PCC delegates, present and former MLAs and representatives of the zila panchayat, Congress sources said.

The meeting lasted for over two hours in which the partymen are believed to have apprised her of the reasons behind the party`s debacle in assembly elections early this year besides the steps required for strengthening it in view of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, they said.