Never lose hope; never stop dreaming: Rahul
Unencumbered by overzealous party followers or obsequious bureaucrats and with no VIP cavalcades trailing him, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi darted in and out of three parched villages in Vidarbha seeking to strike a chord in the hearts of the overawed folks on Friday.
The youthful 'future prime minister' of India as he is looked up to by millions, Gandhi arrived in the country's suicide capital in the afternoon after visiting Dorli in Wardha district, Shivni Rasulpur in Amravati district and Sonkhas in Yavatmal district with no one really knowing what would be his next destination.
The scion of the country's ruling dynasty embarked on the second leg of his 'Discovery of India' tour of the hinterland immediately after his arrival at Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport in Nagpur earlier in the morning.
At Dorli, the village which its exasperated inhabitants had put up for "sale" along with their own selves two years ago owing to unbearable debt burden and repeated crop failures, people narrated to Rahul their woes in the month-long dry spell resulting in wasted kharif sowing.
It was not all cribbing and whining though - the villagers profusely thanked the Congress MP for his forceful plea to extend the loan waiver benefit to the dry-land farmers with a land-holding above five acres and admitted they could breath easy now because of the debt relief.
"But lack of irrigation facilities has rendered the relief useless at least in the short term as seeds sown twice have gone waste due to the dry spell and another season of crop failure is upon us," villager Dhamapal Darunde told an intently listening Rahul Gandhi.
Village council member Sujata Kamble, at whose residence the young Congress leader met a small group of villagers, told him of long hours of power outages adding to their woes.
At his next and a more relaxed stop-over at Shivni Rasulpur, Gandhi struck an intimate conversation with a village lad.
"What would you like to be in life, what is your dream?" he asked.
"What use dreaming when you know your dreams are never going to come true?" was the lad's reply.
After the tete-a-tete, Rahul obliged the clamouring villagers with a short speech, and referring to the conversation with the dejected boy exhorted them not to lose hopes.
"You must have dreams and must strive to realize them with grit," he said.
In the same breath though he added that he could fully understand their plight and the odds they are fighting are daunting. "The situation in the countryside is really bad. I will convey your feelings to the government which is already doing a lot for rural India," he told them.
At village Sonkhas in Yavatmal district, Rahul took a look at a school and talked to the teachers and students.
Before returning to Nagpur on Sunday morning for a rally of Youth Congress and National Students' Union of India, Rahul Gandhi is meaning to visit late social worker Baba Amte's Anandvan leper-rehabilitation centre at Warora and Mahatma Gandhi's Sewagram Ashram in Wardha.
In Nagpur, he is also understood to have plans to visit 'Deeksha Boomi' where Ambedkar with thousands of backward castes people embraced Buddhism in 1956.
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