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Rahul leads in Bundelkhand with street dharna

Lucknow, Sat, 19 Apr 2008 NI Wire

The All India Congress Committee general secretary Rahul Gandhi did not lose his heart despite witnessing adverse outcome in the Uttar Pradesh by-polls signalling the supremacy of BSP and on Friday to facilitate the revival of his party march past to the Divisional Commissioner (DC) office in Jhansi.

During his interaction with the villagers on Friday morning, the Gandhi scion after observing irregularities in the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) and finding lack of basic needs including drinking water led a crowd of about 100 disgruntled villagers to the DC office later his residence in Jhansi.

But 500 metres far from the DC’s residence, he was to confront with the administration, which stopped the crowd to go ahead resulted into the Young Gandhi’s staging perhaps the first street dharna. Gandhi sat there for about 20 minutes in scorching heat.

Since Friday was the gazetted holiday owing to Mahavir Jayanti the DC was unwilling to meet the delegation of villagers headed by Rahul Gandhi, but allowed to meet Gandhi with maximum 10 people. But Gandhi as per the source refused the proposal and sent a message to meet accompanying whole people. About half-an-hour later he was allowed to meet the commissioner whom he apprised of the farmers issues and anomalies in the implementation of NREGS.

“We have BPL cards but don’t get any ration from the public distribution outlets,” the villagers said. While many complained they are yet to get BPL cards.

A lot of villagers said they had neither been issued job cards nor given jobs under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. Some of them accused gram pradhans for not distributing job cards. Many complained they were not paid wages for working under the NREGS.

“The NREGA is a very powerful programme which guarantees employment. There are many villages here where people need employment. For them it is a question of life or death because there is a lack of water, and extreme poverty. I found one such village. The villagers asked me to take them to the Commissioner, and that’s why we are here,” Rahul said.

The Divisional Commission has assured him to implement NREGS scheme soon and would sort out the problems of villagers, he added.

Earlier Rahul Gandhi visited remote villages in Banda and Chitrakoot districts in the Bundelkhand region, comprising parts of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, where he met farmers, tribals and Dalit families to get information of the development of the Central schemes, particularly the rural job programme. He also spent a night in a tribal household in Rajapur village in Panna district.

Few days back during Congress UP committee convention, Sonia Gandhi had told Congressmen to be ready to go to jail if the party was to grow in UP and if needed, Rahul would also court arrest.

Already irked over Rahul’s dalit love and repeated foray into dalit pockets, the protest action is believed to have caused another embarrassment to the ruling BSP government headed by Chief Minister Mayawati.

Sometimes ago Mayawati had accused Rahul for taking holy bath while reaching at his home in the capital after meeting and eating with dalits. But Rahul continued his practice of eating and sleeping at dalit’s house this time too during his visit to Madhya Pradesh and later to UP. On Friday, he completed his fourth day of the Bundelkhand trip.

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