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They came to see the baby boy

columns Updated: Apr 04, 2014 21:36 IST
Sujata Anandan
Rahul Gandhi

The jury may still be out on whether Rahul Gandhi has come of age politically, but at 43, the Congress vice-president can hardly be called a 'baby boy'.

Seventy-two-year-old Latabai, however, speaks of him only as "bapu" the infant born to Indira Gandhi's "Soonbai".

The grandmother of five remembers "Indirabai" as also her son Rajiv. She even attended some rallies of Sonia. On Friday, she braved the sun to make her way to Yavatmal to catch a glimpse of the 'latest' Gandhi.

Gandhi is under attack from all quarters for carrying the family banner, but dynasty is no evil in Latabai's rural Maharashtra.

Mostly pitching to his constituency of women, Gandhi had chided the state party unit at his Gadchiroli meet last week for placing women behind the rows reserved for men.

Mistake corrected, women this time were allotted space right behind the security barricade. A thoughtful logistics person also made it easy for the sari-clad women to reach the enclosure by keeping a 3-ft gap between barricades. For men, it is just about 12 inches.

After his address, Gandhi comes close to the barricades to shake hands with some. There is a surge of men from other enclosures and many women get pushed, but Latabai is happy that she got a close look at her 'baby boy'.

After seeking votes for Yavatmal candidate Shivajirao Moghe and Sanjay Deotale for Chandrapur, Gandhi reached out to another woman – the Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee, who he said was right in throwing the Tata Nano plant out of West Bengal. Nano came in for some concerted attack Friday as did the Gujarat model of development, though Tatas and Gujarat CM Narendra Modi remained unnamed.

"They moved to Gujarat. Around 3,000 acres was given to the project but only 2,000 jobs were created. How many Nanos do you see on the roads today? Virtually none. This kind of development is not what we want. We want to take the poor along with the rich and we want to make sure that farmers do not have to suffer such crony capitalism."

Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan challenged Modi on all social indices, saying Gujarat did not even come a "close second" to Maharashtra.

However, Peoples Republican Party leader Jogendra Kawade, who returned to the Congress-NCP fold recently, drew the loudest applause. "They (the BJP) have gone on a honeymoon even before the marriage."