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Down-to-earth Rahul’s a hit

On the third day of Discover India, Rahul Gandhi showed the kind of spontaneity that his grandmother was famous for, report Soumyajit Pattnaik & Priya Ranjan Sahu.
Hindustan Times | By Soumyajit Pattnaik & Priya Ranjan Sahu, Bhubaneswar
UPDATED ON MAR 10, 2008 02:46 AM IST

On the third day of his Discover India visit to Orissa, AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi on Sunday showed the kind of spontaneity that his grandmother was famous for.

When Rosalan Bibi of Kuduma village in Mayurbhanj district, asked him to help her five-year-old grandson Sheikh Sarfraz with a heart disorder, Rahul promised to get him treated at a heart institute in Bangalore.

Rahul watched the final match of the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Tribal Football Tournament at the Karanjia college ground before sharing lunch with the tribal players.

When Jyotsnarani Tudu, a tribal girl of Mahuldiha village, urged Rahul to increase the number of days of job under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) from 100 to 200 days, he said the first priority was to make sure that people get jobs under the scheme in Orissa. Another girl suggested the MP to pursue women’s reservation in Parliament with greater urgency, as tribal women would be greatly benefited.

The AICC general secretary visited the Nalco smelter plant at Angul, which his father had dedicated to the nation. Workers at the plant thanked him for the UPA Government's decision not to go ahead with Nalco’s disinvestment, which was set in motion during the NDA Government.

During his visit, he paid an unscheduled visit to an employee’s house and spent approximately 45 minutes with his family, including his wife and two sons. He relished namkeen, sherbat and an Oriya delicacy called pheni.

An overwhelmed Deepak Behera later told the Hindustan Times that he never expected Rahul Gandhi to spend time with his family.

“He is very spontaneous with his feelings and down-to-earth. He asked me how long I have been working in the company, about my salary and whether I am happy with my work,” Behera said.

In the afternoon, Rahul addressed a public meeting at Berhampur in southern Orissa where he criticised the state government for not
utilising the Central funds properly.

Rahul said, “There is no shortage of Central funds coming to Orissa, but the state government has not been able to spend the money in a proper manner. I had not seen such poverty and underdevelopment in my life. The state government should go.”

The BJP organised a “Sankalpa Samavesha” at Berhampur, to counter Rahul's visit.

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