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Ailing Politician Cancels 10,000-bike Campaign Parade in India


Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi greets supporters at the outset of a road show ahead of upcoming Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections, in Varanasi, India, Aug. 2, 2016.

Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi greets supporters at the outset of a road show ahead of upcoming Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections, in Varanasi, India, Aug. 2, 2016.

The massive bicycle parade that Sonia Gandhi planned to kick off her Congress party's election campaign in India's Uttar Pradesh state was cut short Tuesday when her doctor said she had a fever and should return to Delhi.

Gandhi's 10,000-bicycle parade targeting the ruling BJP party and what Gandhi says are the failed promises of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was set to go through the northeastern city of Varanasi.

Gandhi, 69, began her six-kilometer road show at a statue devoted to B.R. Ambedkar, a low-caste dalit and architect of India's constitution. She was standing in a sport utility vehicle, waving at supporters for hours, before taking a break at a local hotel.

Canceled segments of the road show included two "meet the press" stops, prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, and a rally and speech at a statue of former Congress politician Kamlapathi Tripathi, who led the state in the 1970s.

While the event was meant to draw attention to Congress party criticisms of Modi, the prime minister tweeted that he'd heard of Gandhi's illness and wished her a speedy recovery.

The opposition party accuses Modi of failing to keep promises to the state, including cleaning the Ganges river and reviving the handloom industry.

However, defeating the party in next year's election will be difficult. Varanasi is loyal to the BJP and Modi, who has represented the city in parliament in addition to being prime minster for the past two years.

Even the Uttar Pradesh Congress party leader, Raj Babbar, has said that his party needs a "miracle" to regain support in the state.

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