The Congress President Sonia Gandhi 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 on Tuesday.
This was in sharp contrast to Sonia's attacks on Mulayam Singh Yadav government for poor law and order situation on Monday. Asked if free and fair elections would be possible under the Mulayam regime in view of 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 take 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 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 nearly five villages Sonia ordered distribution of blankets to the poor. Before proceeding Sonia told the people that government jobs were limited and people would have to look for alternative options. "There are limited options in government sector. Alternative job options would have to be found out to ensure that youths got jobs. The UPA government has launched the NREGP in 200 districts, she said, Now NREGP would now be extended in 600 districts, she said adding unemployment was a major problem of not only this region but the nation.
Various schemes to set up small scale and cottage units have also been launched to make the youth self reliant, she said. Sonia recalled 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 has been constituency of Indira Gandhi. Sonia also referred to options in Information Technology sector to make her point that Rajiv Gandhi always thought to make all the facilities available to youth.
At the same function Sonia expressed her concern at the dropouts in schools and called upon the people to ensure that all children went to school. "Government can not all the work," she said while laying emphasis on need of education for all sections of society. This was the most important factor to take people and society forward, she said.
Later at Balwant Ka Purwa village near 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 poverty line. "We neither get BPL cards nor other cards," said villagers adding even the poorest among the poor have 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 villagers while urging Sonia to pay attention to irrigation facilities.