The small town of Davangere which is located in the centre of Karnataka was woken up on Monday thanks to the launch of the Congress election campaign by party chief, Sonia Gandhi. Although the streets of this small town did not indicate that a rally of such a big magnitude would be held, the Bapuji MBA college grounds where the rally was held told a different story.
People numbering up to nearly 2 lakh had made it to the venue in the scorching heat to catch a glimpse of the leader who was scheduled to arrive by 1300 hrs. The Congress had ensured that people turn up in large numbers since this rally earmarked the kickstarting of the election campaign for the party. A Congress worker told rediff.com that 2 lakh chairs were put up at the venue since they did not want anyone standing and creating a commotion.
The usual bickering within party ranks before the final list of candidates are announced was not visible. All leaders seemed to have buried their differences for now and made it to the rally. Leaders like Jaffer Sharrief and Magaret Alva were present along with the rest of the state leaders.
The people who had filled the grounds an hour in advance, waited patiently for Sonia Gandhi to arrive. Finally at around 1315 hrs when the sound of a chopper's blades was heard, a loud roar went up among the crowd.
It was more of a festival atmosphere at the venue and some people in the crowd even remarked that they had come to see the chopper more than the leader herself. People dressed in colourful clothes and sporting flags of the party were seen at the venue thus giving an indication that the election mood had set in.
The rally began with several leaders including Mallikarjuna Kharge, Siddaramaiah, Ghulam Nabi Azad, RV Deshpande and Jaffer Sharrief saying a few words. Although it was a Sonia show, it was local leader, Siddaramaiah who drew the most cheers when he spoke. Sonia delivered a subdued and a predictable speech which lasted just 15 minutes. Several people felt that she addressed the same issues which she has been addressing during her past few rallies.
However the mood in the Congress has been set. There has been a delay in the announcement of the list of candidates. Congress workers say that they were waiting for this completion of this rally since they did not want any bickering during this event. Sources say that the list should be out now anytime between the 24 and 27th of March following which the Congress would enter the battle field.