Empty streets greet Sonia Gandhi's one day campaign trail
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, February 09: Though AICC president Sonia Gandhi did not undertake any surface travel worth mentioning during her one day campaign exercise for the Congress today, the deserted streets that greeted her during the short but 'significant' road journey she undertook from Kangla to Mapal Kangjeibung must have been very telling.

Even during the helicopter rides which ferried her from Tulihal Airport to Kodompokpi Basu ground and from there to Kangla and again back to the airport, the deserted streets below could not have escaped the eyes of the AICC president.

However the boycott call did not hamper her schedule as Sonia Gandhi went along her business smoothly without any major unwanted incidents.

Arriving amidst tight security cover following the boycott call given by the banned RPF, Sonia Gandhi landed at Tulihal airport in a special flight from New Delhi along with Congress leader Ambika Soni.

At the airport the Congress' most bankable face was received by MPGC (I) president O Ibobi and Mani Shankar Aiyer at 11.45 am.

From the airport the Congress president along with 0 Ibobi and the other two Congress leaders took a helicopter and headed straight for Kodompokpi Basu ground where a public meeting was scheduled.

Kodompokpi is the meeting point of three constituencies, Heirok, Wangjing Tentha and Khaneabok.

Sonia Gandhi arrived at Kodompokpi at about 1 pm where about three thousand people had gathered to hear and see her in person.

Braving the boycott call the people were either picked up by Congress workers or made it to the ground on their own.

INC candidates in Thoubal district were called up on the dais and introduced to the Congress supremo.

Amidst jostling between the people and security personnel and some heated moments, Sonia, appropriately attired in a ‘Moirang Phee’ addressed the meeting in English and Hindi.

Thereafter Sonia Gandhi along with other Congress leaders left for Imphal where she was to address a public meeting at Mapal Kangjeibung.

The Congress leader landed at Kangla at 1.55 pm and then proceeded towards MPCC (I) office along the BT road where she inaugurated the newly constructed office building of the party.

A number of reporters from the local papers and correspondents were not allowed to enter the office and the over zealous SPG personnel allowed only National TV channel correspondents.

The high handedness of the security personnel particularly the SPG personnel left a bad taste in the mouth of the many journalists who had gone to cover the event.

After addressing the gathering at Mapal Kangjeibung, Sonia Gandhi left Imphal at 3.45 pm.

During her stay here, all major commercial centres including Khwairamband bazar, Thangal bazar and Paona bazar remained closed for the day and passenger buses and taxi services remained suspended for the day.

Imphal city wore a besieged look with heavy security bandobast all around.

Leaving nothing to chance the State administration deployed troops at all the main intersection and thorough fares of Imphal from early morning.

Vehicular movement was low and save for those on emergency, essential services and security personnel many preferred to remain within the safe confines of their homes.

Vehicles were not allowed to proceed along Kanglapat beyond Gandhi Memorial Hall for some time and those coming from the northern side had to take a diversion along the Assembly road.

Tourist buses also cancelled service for the day.

At Jiribam though passenger buses stayed off the road, shops and markets were opened for the day.

People also ventured out for their daily chores.

Bishnupur was hit hard by the boycott call with shops and markets downing shutters.

Passenger buses also stayed off the road and daily movements of the people were affected.

Till noon all shops and markets were closed at Thoubal.

However after 12 pm, shops and markets started opening and people started venturing out.

Passenger buses however did not ply till late into the evening.