First there was Kalawati - the Vidarbha widow who lived all her life in a village with no electricity. Her story touched Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, who spoke of her in Parliament.
On Monday, Rahul spoke of another woman and her struggles. Sunita, he said, was a Dalit woman who was too poor to afford clothes for her children. He also spoke of the police atrocities downtrodden people like her face everyday.
Speaking at a function - organised by NABARD and the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust - to launch the 'Priyadarshini Project and Mega Credit Camp' at Gaurigarj here, the Amethi MP recounted his visit to Pure Jawaharpur village in his constituency and said: "My dream is not to see any poor family like Sunita's anywhere in the country."
"Her two children Aman and Sachin were sitting on my lap. Seven-year-old daughter Aman told me she was afraid of the police as they used to beat her father for no reason," he said.
"It was winter and the two children had no clothes on their backs, though the elders had proper warm clothes. I asked why the children had no clothes while the elders were properly clad," he said, adding: "I was told that the family could afford warm clothes either for the children or for the elders. As the elders had to earn a living, they could not afford to fall sick. So the family decided to keep the elders warm to ensure food for the children."
Rahul said he often visited rural areas and met poor families trying to come out of the abject poverty they lived in by forming self-help groups. He said many of these self-help groups were now doing well in the constituency.
"People told me self-help groups could not do well in UP," he said, adding that now, about two lakh women are benefiting from such groups. "If this can work in Amethi it will work in UP too."
Sunita too was present at the programme and remembered the MP's visit to her village on January 26. "The police used to take my husband to investigate a forged complaint," she said, adding: "Rahul Gandhi has portrayed a true picture of what he saw in my village."
His mother Sonia Gandhi accompanied Rahul to Amethi, Later, addressing the gathering; the Congress president lauded the Manmohan Singh government's efforts for the empowerment of women. She listed the Domestic Violence Act, Women's Reservation Bill and the right to inherit ancestral property as the main achievements of the government. She said the day was not far when development would need women instead of women needing development.