CONGRESS CHIEF Sonia Gandhi today went out on a reality check mission inspecting spots of development works being undertaken under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP) and sensing political mood in the wake of forthcoming Vidhan Sabha elections.
This was in sharp contrast to Sonia’s attacks on Mulayam Singh Yadav government for poor law and order situation on Monday. When asked if free and fair elections would be possible under the Mulayam regime in view of the worsening law and order situation Sonia skirted the question and continued to interact with people asking their problems. On Wednesday Sonia proposes to meet the new office-bearers of urban local bodies to get a feel of people’s pulse.
That Sonia had some political agenda to pursue during this visit was reflected right from the time she began to speak at diamod jubilee celebrations of Baiswara Inter College at Lalganj and used the occasion to congratulate new office-bearers and thank people for electing them.
Later as Sonia went from village to village to know the status of works being undertaken under the NREGP, people turned up in large numbers to have a glimpse of her and tell her their problems. At some villages Sonia ordered distribution of blankets to the poor. Before proceeding she told the people that government jobs were limited and they would have to look for alternative options. “There are limited options in government sector. Alternative job options would have to be found to ensure that youths got jobs,” she said. The UPA government had launched the NREGP in 200 districts, she said adding that it would now be extended in 600 districts. She said unemployment was a major problem of not only this region but also the nation.
Various schemes to set up small-scale and cottage units had also been launched to make the youth self reliant, she said. Sonia recalled the association of people with late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and said girls of Rae Bareli should not be lagging behind in any sphere as this had been the constituency of Indira Gandhi. Sonia also referred to options in information technology sector to make her point that Rajiv Gandhi always thought of making all the facilities available to the youth.
At the same function Sonia expressed her concern at the dropouts in schools and called upon people to ensure that all children went to school. “Government cannot do all the work,” she said while laying emphasis on the need for education to all sections of the society. This was the most important factor to take people and society forward, she said. Later at Balwant Ka Purwa village Sonia Gandhi went for spot inspection of a pond constructed under the NREGP.
Villagers, however, could be seen making complaints against officials’ refusal to make ration cards for people living below the poverty line. “We neither get BPL cards nor other cards,” said villagers adding even the poorest among the poor had been denied the cards on one pretext or the other.
At Bara Purwa village a woman requested Sonia to extend some help for the marriage of her daughter. Sonia took her application and assured help. At Balhe Mau Aaihan village her attention was drawn towards the water problem. “The canal has dried up,” said the villagers while urging Sonia to pay attention to irrigation facilities.