Monday, November 29, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Sonia Gandhi reaches out to dalit villagers

Sonia Gandhi reaches out to dalit villagers
TNN, Nov 30, 2010, 03.47am IST

LUCKNOW: Congress president Sonia Gandhi began a three-day tour of her
constituency, Rae Bareli, on Monday, with an unannounced trip to
Indira Gandhi Eye Hospital and Research Centre (IGEHRC) — the
multi-speciality hospital funded by Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust.

Driving down to Rae Bareli from Amausi airport, her cavalcade made the
sudden detour taking the local officials by surprise. Since the time
it was inaugurated in May, 2008, this is Sonia's first visit to
IGEHRC, though Rahul Gandhi has been here twice.

The diversion of route led to much confusion among the state security
agencies and officials on the VIP duty, who were accompanying the
Congress president. The visit may intensify the ongoing 'paper-war'
between the Centre and state over the frequent breach of security by
Gandhi family. Earlier this month, two visits by Rahul Gandhi to
Lucknow without taking the local administration in confidence have
already caused much discomfiture here. During the first day of her
tour, Sonia followed a set agenda and focused primarily on assessing
Centrally-sponsored developmental projects and social welfare schemes.
She made frequent stopovers to prod villagers on these schemes and
sought their reaction. On a whirlwind tour that covered 15 villages in
5 hours, Sonia chatted up women and children to gauge the truth behind
the implementation of MNREGS and Mid-Day Meal Scheme.

In Lodhipur village, she went out of the way to communicate with a
group of schoolkids and queried them about the MDM menu — the quantity
of food served, its quality and also the frequency of meals actually
served to them. After overcoming initial awe, the children complained
about small servings by the school authorities and Sonia was seen
issuing directions to the officers accompanying her.

In Mau, villagers crowded around her to narrate the problems they
faced due to erratic power supply and poor accessibility to the
interiors due to non-existent road network. The leader gave them a
patient hearing and assured help. She also inspected the projects
taken up under MNREGS. Curiously, almost all the villages visited by
Sonia on Monday happened to be dalit dominated, giving rise to
speculation that the move was a well-calculated ploy to give anxious
moments to BSP chief Mayawati. However, senior Congress leaders denied
any designs behind the tour schedule and claimed the villages were
selected randomly and the strong dalit presence in the itinerary was


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