A few hours after giving the chalo gaon ki ore (let’s head towards the village) call to Uttar Pradesh Congress Coordination Committee members, party general secretary Rahul Gandhi put his slogan into practice.
He spent Thursday night in a thatched house at the Dalit-dominated Kansapur village in his Lok Sabha constituency Amethi, 140 kilometres southeast of Lucknow.
Under the light of a lantern, the Gandhi scion shared pakauri (a fried savoury) and tea with the villagers and held a chaupal (meeting) with self-help group workers.
He also celebrated Raksha Bandhan, albeit a little belatedly. A group of women tied rakhi on his wrist as he sat on a mat in front of Awadhesh Srivastava’s house. Srivastava, 50, teaches at the village school.
Unlike the Raksha Bandhan festival, where sisters get a gift when they tie rakhi to their brothers, the village-women did not seek expensive gifts from him.
“His visit to the village is our biggest gift,” said Srivastava’s wife Diptima (45). Others, however, demanded an English-medium school for the village.
At the party’s coordination committee meeting on Thursday evening, Rahul had asked Congressmen to reach out to people in rural areas and avoid confrontation with other political parties that were on the wane.
“Don’t fight political parties. Fight poverty,” he said. Minutes after the meeting, Gandhi left for Amethi and reached the village at about 11.00 pm. As about 200 people gathered, Gandhi chatted with them till about 3 am.
He enquired about the economic conditions of the villagers and how self-help groups were functioning there. As the village experiences frequent power cuts, self-help groups had arranged for a lantern.