Sonia meets, eats with Dalits in Uttar Pradesh


Rae Bareli (Uttar Pradesh) : Congress president Sonia Gandhi visited several Dalit families and ate with one of them in her parliamentary constituency Amethi here Wednesday, the second and last day of her Uttar Pradesh visit.

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To have the first hand experience of problems and challenges faced by the Dalits, Gandhi visited their huts in various villages in Rae Bareli, a Congress leader said.

“During her interaction with Dalits, Soniaji had food provided by a Dalit family in Rohania village in Rae Bareli,” the leader told IANS. “She had some flattened rice (chivda).”

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson sought suggestions from Dalit families on some developmental projects.

Gandhi also made surprise inspection at the Indira Gandhi Eye Hospital in Amethi and urged the hospital’s doctors to work sincerely for the poor and the needy, party officials said.

Earlier in the day, Gandhi distributed blankets to the poor and held jansabha (public meet) to know their problems.

Gandhi left for the national capital around 5.45 p.m.

The Congress president, who was on a two-day visit to Rae Bareli, cancelled all public functions following the death of former president R. Venkataraman Tuesday.

“Soniaji called off the inaugural function of the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER),” Congress spokesperson Akhilesh Pratap Singh said.

He said Gandhi also cancelled the inauguration of a hostel building at the Feroze Gandhi Engineering and a BSNL customer care centre.

Gandhi arrived in Rae Bareli Tuesday and launched the country’s third rail coach factory here, built at a cost of Rs.20 billion ($408 million), promising jobs to at least 8,000 people.