But as Priyanka Gandhi covered about half-a-kilometre barefoot Monday in the scorching heat after her sandals broke during a padyatra in Rae Bareli, she left the onlookers mesmerised. The Congress workers sought to cash-in on the moment as they raised the slogan Priyanka nahi aandhi hai, doosri Indira Gandhi hai (She is a storm, and an another Indira Gandhi).
Concentrating mainly on Muslim dominated areas and paying visit to the houses of known Muslim faces of Rae Bareli city on the last day of campaigning, Priyanka began her foot-march around 2:20 pm from central office of the party in the city.
As she took strides, akin to her grandmother and former prime minister Indira Gandhi, she gave a hard time to security officials, who had to push back the teeming crowd around her. After she had covered about one-and-a-half kilometres at Gulab road, someone accidentally stepped on her sandals and the strap came undone. As there were women waiting for her ahead, she took off her other sandal as well and walked bare-foot.
As she kept moving, local youth Congress leaders went in search of new pair of sandals in the market. By the time one Rahul Bajpai found a new pair, she had walked another 500 mtrs bare-foot till Qila bazaar area. On her way, some leaders even tried to give her their footwear but she continued walking. She finally accepted an alternative pair of sandals from her aide Priti Sahay.
As she stopped at shops, houses, crossings and especially at places where groups of women were standing, security personnel struggled to clear way for her. Ending her campaign at Congress district office, Priyanka told reports that there is no challenge before Congress in Rae Bareli and Amethi.
Priyanka will be holding public meetings and padyatra in Amethi, Rahul Gandhis constituency, on Tuesday.
- MAULSHREE SETH