Battle royale: Will Sonia take on Modi in pre-poll rally in Gujarat?

Congress president Sonia Gandhi will address a rally in Rajkot, Gujarat today, and while she is expected to speak only about drought relief and the party's campaign in the state, what remains to be seen is if she will take on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi over his barbs on expenditure for her trips abroad.

The Congress president's rally at a farmer's convention, comes a day after the Gujarat Chief Minister continued to question her over expenses incurred during her travels abroad for medical treatment.

"Sonia Gandhi will arrive around 10.30 am and go straight to 'Gandhi-Smruti', the place where Mahatma Gandhiji stayed during his school days," a Congress leader said.

Elaborate security arrangements have been put in place for the Congress president's rally.

"As many as 1,000 policemen have been deployed at the venue as well as on the roads that Gandhi would pass through to visit various places in the city," the official said.

Her speech today is largely expected to deal with the plight of farmers in the state and could speak about sops for them ahead of the state polls.

However, what everyone will be listening for, is the elephant in the room: Namely the allegations that Modi has been levelling against her throughout his campaign.

 Battle royale: Will Sonia take on Modi in pre-poll rally in Gujarat?

Will the Congress president take on the Gujarat Chief Minister? PTI

Despite proof that the news report that he's quoting may be erroneous, Modi has continued to allege that Rs 1,880 crore has been spent on the Congress president's trips to foreign countries, and has questioned whether public funds have been used for it.

"I read in a newspaper that Rs 1,880 crore was spent on Soniaji's foreign trips...nearly Rs 2,000 crore, If you have to shut Modi's mouth, then make public details about Sonia Gandhi's foreign tours, from the time Manmohan Singh's government came to power in 2004, till now," Modi said.

In a rally in Gandhinagar yesterday, the Chief Minister questioned why the Congress government was not revealing the actual expenditure, if the data he had revealed was wrong. He also said that if the news report which made the allegation was wrong, then the government should have taken legal action against it.

“I had said this thing based on the report of a newspaper. If my information is wrong, today I say that I will publicly accept this mistake”, Modi had said earlier.

And while the Congress has condemned the statements made by Modi, Gandhi and her family members have chosen to maintain a stoic silence. While some say she may not engage in Modi to prevent giving him fodder for his campaign in the state, whether her silence will affect the party just as much also remains to be seen.

Firstpost had also noted that the Gujarat Chief Minister wasn't wrong in asking for the data, even if his original source of the information was not completely accurate.

with inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Oct 03, 2012 09:55:08 IST