The former Indian Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi, has been touring northern India, her power-base until last year's general elections.
The former Indian Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi, has been touring northern India, her power-base until last year's general elections. Although she has been delivering speeches in support of the candidate for her newly formed political party, the Indian National Congress, in a by-election due to be held on Sunday, (2 April) political observers see her tour as a test of her own popularity.
SYNOPSIS: Vast crowds waited for more than two hours for Mrs Gandhi to arrive at a party rally at Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, India's largest northern state on Friday (31 March). A group of opponents of her party waved black flags and attempted to break up the meeting, but the thousands of supporters forcibly removed the hecklers, before Mrs Gandhi arrived. It was from this area that her biggest defeats came in last year's voting. Now the mood is markedly different.
During her tour of the state Mrs Gandhi addressed six mass meetings. If her candidate wins the by-election at Karnal, the victory could provide her with a foothold in northern India.
Demonstrations of support for Mrs Gandhi were colourful...a cheque equal in value to her weight in silver....and a portrait painted in the artist's own blood.
Mrs Gandhi received an impressive reception - - a turnaround from the indifference shown to her in this area when she campaigned here last year. Then the Janata Party of Prime Minister Morarji Desai won 70 per cent of the vote. But all that appears to have changed and the result is expected to be close.
During her speech, Mrs Gandhi said she accepted responsibility for excesses introduced during her emergency rule. Now she had come to apologise.