Rahul gives media and politicians a slip again


Jhansi: Arriving three hours behind schedule, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi managed to give both the media and politicians a slip here.

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He however kept his date with Ghisauli village, where 22 self-help groups of rural womenfolk, whose empowerment was on top of his agenda during his two-day visit to Bundelkhand – the most backward part of Uttar Pradesh.

The self-help groups were formed here under the auspices of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation on the same lines as had been done in Rahul’s Lok Sabha constituency Amethi as well his mother Sonia Gandhi’s Rae Bareli parliamentary constituency.

While the media was as usual kept far away from the programme, what surprised all was denial of access even to local Lok Sabha MP Pradeep Jain, who was also the Union Minister of State for Rural Development.

Undaunted by security considerations, the Gandhi scion continued with his meeting well after sunset, listening patiently to every individual who wished to express her story.

Citing examples of how a similar effort had transformed the lives of hundreds of families in Amethi and Rae Bareli, he also explained every detail of the benefits that self-help groups would eventually accrue.

Once through with Ghisauli, he moved ahead to other undeclared destinations in the neighouring Lalitpur district.

Even as local Congressmen had arranged for his night hault at the Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) guest house, no one was in a position to confirm whether Rahul would spend the night there or would stick to his habit of giving everyone a slip and take shelter in a humble Dalit’s hut in some lesser known village.

Much significance was being attached to Rahul’s visit because this was his first visit after he pushed through a Rs 7,000 crore special development package for the drought-hit Bundelkhand region.

However, what was equally significant was the visit coincided with the commencement of the first major movement for the long pending demand of the local people for statehood to Bundelkhand.

As late as on Dec 16, Bundelkhand Mukti Morcha (BMM) chief Raja Bundela had launched a 300 km march to press the people’s demand for a separate state. Earlier this morning, a large BMM group welcomed him at the Jhansi airstrip , raising slogans for early creation of Bundelkhand state.