rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » 'I felt like I was talking to my own son'

'I felt like I was talking to my own son'

Last updated on: July 8, 2011 21:02 IST

'I felt like I was talking to my own son'

     Next

Next
Sahim Salim

Sahim Salim chronicles day four of Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi's padyatra through the dusty villages of western Uttar Pradesh.

"Bande mein dam hain yaar. Aise AC kamre chodke gaanv ke sadko pe chalna mazaak nahi hain. Dekh lena, iski mehnat ka fal meetha hoga. (This guy has guts, man. It is not a joke to leave air conditioned rooms to walk through the streets of villages. You wait and watch, for him, the fruits of his efforts will surely be sweet," a villager of Chandpur village quipped to his friend about Rahul Gandhi.

That is the popular sentiment in villages Gandhi has covered.

When we asked him if he would vote for Gandhi, the villager, Radha Charan said, "It is too soon to decide now. But yes, the way he has been walking is unbelievable. Most of the villagers had thought that he would walk for a couple of hours a day, before stopping."

"But that has not been so. He has walked for hours every day and broke bread at our houses. He has listened to our complaints, which Mayawati never did. Yes, I will consider him, because his hard work has appealed to me," he said.

Gandhi, in his fourth day of his padyatra (walkathon), has covered over 70 kilometers on foot, across 30 villages and four districts. The only common link between these villages is the under-construction, sprawling 165-km long Yamuna Expressway.

Impressive, one would say.

Click NEXT to read further...


Image: Radha Charan, from Chandpur village
Photographs: Sahim Salim
     Next

'I was happy under the governance of Indira Gandhi'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

As he walked from one village to the next, not minding the rough roads and the specially hot and humid weather on Friday, it was difficult keeping up. And because of his sheer grit, the number of people following him has increased multi-fold.

On Friday, as he walked the Ghangoli village in Aligarh district to Chandpur in Mathura, there were about 500 people -- mostly farmers -- following him. A day before, only about a 100 gave him company.

The 41-year-old leader addressed the people in a question-answer format on Friday. Along the way in different villages, he knocked and entered random houses to ask the women-folk how they were. In Deva Kannagla village, he walked around with his arm around the shoulder of an elderly woman.

"I was just telling him that I was happy under the governance of Indira Gandhi. I asked him to bring back similar governance. He was so friendly; I almost felt like I was talking to my own son," a shy Omwati said.

"He advised my husband not to accept anything under the market price for our land. He is right. Why should we part with our precious land for a government who fires at us if we tell them our problems?" Omwati asked.

Click NEXT to read further...


Image: Omwati, from Deva Kannagla village
Photographs: Sahim Salim
Prev     Next

'If the UP govt wants, they can pay you at the market rate'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Gandhi himself was at his wittiest best. As he was addressing a crowd at Ghangoli village, a man interrupted his speech asking if he could speak for two minutes.

"Aur mere do minute ka kya hoga, Bhaiyya? (And what will happen to my two minutes, brother?)" Gandhi asked to roaring laughter from the villagers. On day four, he also was at his provocative best too.

"Normally robberies happen at night. Here in Uttar Pradesh, your government is stealing from you in broad daylight. They forcefully acquire your land at a rate that is way below the market rate. You might think farmers in Noida are getting paid the market rate. Yes, they are being paid more, but even that amount is not the market rate," Gandhi said at Chandpur village.

"There is no dearth of money with the government. If the UP governments so desires, they can pay you the right amount of money," Gandhi added. He said that land acquisition was happening everywhere, from Haryana, Orissa, Andhra to even West Bengal.

Click NEXT to read further...


Image: A village elder blesses Rahul Gandhi
Photographs: Sahim Salim
Prev     Next

'Mayawati government's intent is bad'

Prev     More
Prev

More

"But farmers are losing their land in such an unfair manner only in Uttar Pradesh. We, in New Delhi can bring a new policy. But we cannot guarantee its implementation in Uttar Pradesh," he said.

"The existing law, if followed with good intent, can be fair, but the intent of the Mayawati government itself is bad. So, no matter what laws are in place, if intent is not right, you can still be taken for a ride," Gandhi added.

He told the villagers that it was from them that he learnt so much.

"Before undertaking this Padyatra, I met a lot of people in Delhi -- bureaucrats, politicians, Non-Governmental Organisation workers -- to know about your problems. It is only after meeting you that I have really understood you. You are as intelligent as the law maker. I believe that you have to be included in the dialogue that decides the formulation of laws affecting you," Gandhi said.


Image: A villager atop a tree, trying to get a glimpse of Rahul Gandhi
Photographs: Sahim Salim
Prev     More