Rehashed script but Sonia Gandhi a hit
Source: The Sangai Express

Churachandpur, February 12: Sonia Gandhi repeated the script from Wangjing and Imphal, minus the territorial integrity issue, but this was no deterrent to the people of Churachandpur who turned up in droves to attend the public meeting which she addressed today.

Local pop songs played from the background ensured that the mammoth crowd drawn from the length and breadth of Churachandpur district did not get bored or listless while waiting for the biggest crowd drawer of the Congress at Peace ground in the heart of the town locate 62 kms from Imphal.

As the helicopter carrying Sonia touched down the people, who rose in unison as one and cheered, � Long live Sonia, Long live Congress�.

Wearing a cream colored Manipuri silk sari with a traditional hand woven Kuki Phanek, she stepped out from the chopper waving her hands much to the delight of the CCpurians.

Though she repeated the same speech she gave at Wangjing and at Imphal on February 5, Gandhi skirted the issue of Manipur�s territorial integrity and gave a half baked speech on the cotinued imposition of the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

Commenting on the Army Act, she said the Government has already lifted the Disturbed Area status, needed for AFSPA to become operational, from Imphal municipal areas.

However in her previous statements on February 5, Gandhi had maintained that the Government was seriously studying the recommendations of the Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission which had advocated the abolition of the said Act.

The long cherished dream of the people was fulfilled when the Assam Rifles vacated Kangla fort in November, 2004, she said while recalling the huge economic packages announced by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh during his two visits to the State.

The packages, she said include upgradation of all the important roads in the State, conversion of Manipur University to the status of a Central University, taking up of the capital project comprising buildings of High Court, State Assembly and Secretariat and implementation of the Self Employment Generation Scheme.

Stating that only the Congress has been able to complete the full five year term in office in Manipur, which is a record, the AICC president urged the people to come out and vote for the party in the ensuing polls so as to ensure a brighter and more prosperous Manipur.

Churachandpur district along with Tamenglong district, Chandel district and Jiribam sub-division of Imphal East will go to the polls on February 23, the third and final phase of polling.

Though the mammoth crowd�s intense cheering reached its crescendo when Sonia Gandhi mouthed the local dialect �Kakipahe� (Thank you) after the end of her speech.

Before long the jam-packed people mostly young boys and girls then shouted in their dialect � Pi Sonia Gandhi, Damsothen�, (Long Live Madam Gandhi).

� We saw Sonia only in newspapers and television but today we witnessed her in reality.

She has a towering personality.

She is nice and she really pulled the mammoth crowd.

I love her great articulation�, said Lhilhing Thadou , a teenaged Kuki girl of the town.