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Rediff.com  » News » PIX: When Rahul had dry roti and slept on a charpoy

PIX: When Rahul had dry roti and slept on a charpoy

Last updated on: July 8, 2011 14:20 IST

Rahul went that extra mile for rural India

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Sahim Salim
With just the right amount of rhetoric, provocation and promises, Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi's much-publicised padyatra struck a chord. Each step he took looked impromptu -- there were no announcements or itineraries or discussions.

And it worked.

The farmers followed him as he undertook his walk through the dusty villages of western Uttar Pradesh, braving the miles of untarred roads, the humid climate and the tiring journey.

Having walked for a good 27 km on Wednesday, Gandhi had chosen a house at random in Sairol village, Aligarh district.

Villagers looked in disbelief as Gandhi waived away Congress workers' help in securing a good place for him to spend the night. He walked through the village after interacting with the villagers in the temple courtyard and stopped in front of a house.

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Image: Rahul Gandhi visits Sairol village, Aligarh district during his padyatra

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'I was stunned when Rahul chose to stay at my house'

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The house belonged to one Harkesh Kumar, a farmer.

"As the news spread that Rahulji will stay at a house in the village, almost all the villagers came out of their houses, hoping he would choose them. He passed by my house, then turned back and asked me for permission to stay. I was too stunned to speak for some time. Finally, I invited him to sit on a charpoy and offered him water," an elated Harkesh said.

He asked for a bucket on spotting a hand pump in Harkesh's courtyard. The farmer protested, but Gandhi insisted to pump the water out himself and then went for a bath.

He again connected, when he refused to eat a buttered roti offered to him, saying he would eat the dry roti the rest of the family was having for their meal.


Image: A village elder blesses Rahul Gandhi

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Breakfast with Rahul Gandhi

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The Congress leader talked with Harkesh, who also lost his land to acquisition, well into the night. He finally dozed off at 12.30 hours on a charpoy in Harkesh's open courtyard. He woke up at 5.15 hours took a bath, had tea with Harkesh and resumed his padyatra at 6.45 hours.

The next six hours would see him shuffle between four villages and cover over 20 km. He covered Kripalpur, Khangru, Kansera before finally stopping for lunch and a nap at Sibroli. At about 17.00 hours, he undertook a 5 km walk to Zikrapur before stopping for the night at Marorgadi.

Each stop Gandhi made, he interacted with the villagers from a courtyard of a temple or a school. He was vocal against the Mayawati government to the point of daring her.

Image: Rahul Gandhi touched an emotional chord as heard villagers out

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Lucknow is stealing your land: Rahul

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I have seen with my own eyes the brutality with which the Mayawati government acted in Bhatta Parsaul. It seems that the Uttar Pradesh government has forgotten that the role of the government is to hear the people. Instead, the government just takes away your land without even informing you," said Gandhi addressing villagers at Sibroli.

"You have been paid Rs 570 per square metre but the original price of land is Rs 10,000. Who is stealing? Your government is stealing, Lucknow is stealing and that too without even consulting you," Gandhi said addressing a similar crowd at Marorgadi.

Gandhi also promised that in the next session of Lok Sabha, the United Progressive Alliance government will introduce an effective Land Acquisition Bill passed in the favour of the farmers.

Image: Rahul Gandhi promised to introduce Land Acquisition Bill in the next Lok Sabha session

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'What Rahulji is doing is admirable, but laws need to change'

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There is palpable anger among the farmers. But is Rahul Gandhi's padyatra enough to capitalise on it?

Said Harkesh, ''I made it very clear to Rahulji that what he is doing is admirable, but unless the Congress comes out with a good alternative bill to replace the age old law that Mayawati is using to take our land, they don't have a future in UP.''

Though many people flocked to hear Gandhi speak, there were many who did not attend the interaction.


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Rahul's visit just a political game, feel some villagers

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A villager of Sibroli Harish Chander said, "This is nothing but a political game. He is blaming the Mayawati government for grabbing our lands and using force to contain us. Yes, this is a serious issue but what is the UPA government doing at the Centre?" he said.

"They too used force to evict more than 20,000 people who were protesting against corruption and black money. Moreover, the UPA government has been responsible for the unbearable inflation," he added.

A villager of Kripalpur, Manish Kumar said, "Rahul Gandhi is trying to project the UPA's image as people-friendly but inflation is the biggest enemy of a common man. Till they curb it, they can't call themselves people-friendly."


Image: Not all villagers were in awe of Gandhi, may blamed the UPA for inflation

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