PRATAPGARH, India — On Saturday morning, Ram Das, an elderly porter, was frantically looking for customers at the train station of Pratapgarh, a small town in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
Flashing a toothless smile, Mr. Das admitted to charging a reporter 10 extra rupees, or 16 cents, on top of his usual 20-rupee fee because he only had until noon to make enough money for his daily groceries. After that, he was going to spend the rest of the day at a rally led by Rahul Gandhi, the Congress party’s vice president, that was the start of the party’s campaign in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state.
“He should be the next leader,” Mr. Das said. “Why? Because our loyalties have always been with the Congress.”
The choice of Pratapgarh for Mr. Gandhi’s rally was a logical one. It is close to Amethi, where Mr. Gandhi holds a parliamentary seat, and to Rae Bareli, where Sonia Gandhi, his mother and the party’s president, holds another. For more than five decades, the residents of the Pratapgarh district have mostly voted for Congress party candidates for Parliament, candidates who belong to the royal family from the village of Kalakankar, where they have lived since the 17th century…read it at The New York Times.