Rahul went that extra mile for rural India
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
'I was stunned when Rahul chose to stay at my house'
"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
Breakfast with Rahul Gandhi
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
Lucknow is stealing your land: Rahul
"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
'What Rahulji is doing is admirable, but laws need to change'
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.
Rahul's visit just a political game, feel some villagers
"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