‘Jain Shikanji’ shop in Modi Nagar, Ghaziabad, had an unexpected visitor on Thursday. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi made a sudden stopover at the shop to savour their famous ‘Alu Chaat’ and ‘Shikanji’. He was on the final leg of his ‘Kisan Yatra’ in Uttar Pradesh.
Rahul was on his way to Delhi and entered Modi Nagar on Thursday afternoon in his Volvo bus, which also carried Congress leaders Sheila Dikshit and Raj Babbar, among others.
“He walked up to the counter and asked for ‘Alu chaat’ and also for a glass of ‘Shikanji.’ He stood at the counter and had both the items . The payment was made by Raj Babbar. The stopover was sudden as Rahul is an SPG protectee and no security persons came over before his visit. His visit to the shop was not scheduled,” said Sudesh Jain, owner of ‘Jain Shikanji.’
‘Jain Shikanji’ is famous stopover for long-distance commuters to Haridwar, Dehradun and Uttarakhand. The shop was established in 1962.
“I think since Raj Babbar keeps coming to my shop, he might have discussed it with Rahul and that made him come here. He arrived here after meeting supporters and walked straight into to the shop. As he arrived, an entire security cordon was put around him. However, seeing Rahul at the shop, local media persons entered the shop and clicked pictures,” Jain added.
Before proceeding, Rahul also offered a garland at the statues of late Major Asha Ram Tyagi who was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra during 1965 Indo-Pak war.
Rahul had five places that he was scheduled to stop at during his Ghaziabad visit but he stopped only in Modi Nagar and Murad Nagar, where he targeted PM Modi over issues of farmers’ loan waiver, reducing electricity bills by half and employment for the youth. He said that if there is a Congress government in UP or in the country next, his government will waive off all farmer loans.
“We will pressurise Modi ji for three demands: ‘Karza maaf’ (farmers’ loan waiver), ‘bijli bill half’ (electricity bill reduction to half) and right price for farmers’ produce... He visits US, China and Japan ... he should also be visiting farmers in their farmlands, meet unemployed youth and also find time to meet small shopkeepers...” he said.
Local Congress supporters were lined up along the NH-58 route since Thursday morning. They had put up tents and installed loudspeakers at different locations adjacent to the highway, in anticipation that Rahul would make stopovers and address gatherings.
“The supporters kept waiting as the cavalcade, followed by SUVs, two-wheelers passed through. We even did not get a hint in which vehicle was Rahul ji seated. The supporters kept on waiving flags even after he had gone past. Many were left wondering whether he would arrive or had he already crossed the stopover point,” said Nitin Chaudhary, a supporter at Ghaziabad.
However, near Meerut Road industrial area, dozens of buses filled with supporters followed Rahul’s cavalcade as his bus sped towards the Meerut crossing through Mohan Nagar, further towards Delhi.
There was no ‘Khat’ sabha this time, in Ghaziabad. Gandhi’s ‘Khat’ sabhas remained a popular feature of his ‘Yatra’ meetings in other areas of UP. However, since morning, two container trucks, bearing Rahul’s photographs and slogans about the ‘yatra,’ were stationed and laden with dozens of new ‘Khats’ near Mohan Nagar.