iconimg Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Umesh Raghuvanshi, Hindustan Times
Amethi, December 18, 2012
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi steered clear of the Gujarat polls and quota in promotion bill on Tuesday, choosing instead to be the navigator in his parliamentary constituency for Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah.  Gandhi was in the passenger seat while Abdullah drove around Amethi villages, where the two leaders spent more than six hours interacting with women of self-help groups (SHGs) and locals.

On exit polls favouring the BJP in Gujarat, Gandhi appeared unfazed and said, “Let’s see what happens.” Asked about quota in promotions, the Amethi MP said he would speak only about the development in his constituency.

Gandhi gave Abdullah a feel of the working of SHGs established to empower women at the grassroots. A group of women from Kashimpur village got an invitation from Abdullah to visit Jammu and Kashmir to help set up SHGs.

“Do shake hands with him. You have to help him when you go there,” Gandhi told the women, as he introduced them to Abdullah.

An elated Sita Bharati, who heads an SHG in Kashimpur, said, “We will go there soon to help the women.”

Abdullah said following the panchayat elections in his state, he had been looking for development models to make women self-sufficient.

“Rahul Gandhi has implemented schemes for uplift of women in his constituency. We will replicate some of these schemes in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

Abdullah was not shielded from niggling issues. At Girdhari Ka Purwa village, local Ram Lal’s house served as the venue for Gandhi, Abdullah and senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz to interact with the public.

“Do you have a ration card? Do you have a job card under rural job scheme? Do you get power?” Gandhi asked Lal, who replied he was not getting work despite having a job card. Villagers also told Gandhi about problem areas in development schemes.