Bastar tribals keen to host Rahul Gandhi

April 24th, 2008 - 5:48 pm ICT by admin  

Jagdalpur (Chhattisgarh), April 24 (IANS) Villagers in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district are busy drawing up their list of grievances and preparing a special menu for Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, who is likely to stay overnight with a tribal family during his two-day trip to the state. The 37-year-old parliamentarian is set to travel to Chhattisgrah Friday ahead of the assembly polls in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled state in November.

Party sources said Gandhi is keen on spending Friday night in Bastar district with a tribal family although security agencies have advised him to give up the idea since the region is a Maoist stronghold.

Gandhi has been requested to stay only in Jagdalpur town which is the district headquarters of Bastar, or Kanker town, the district headquarters of neighbouring Kanker district.

However, party leaders feel Gandhi might give security personnel a slip and push for a last-minute schedule change to spend a night with tribals.

Sonsai Kashyap, head of Jamawada village on the outskirts of Jagdalpur, told IANS: “Officials have informed us that Gandhi will interact with us Saturday morning and discuss our problems. However, some officials added that he might spend the night with us.”

The village has a population of about 3,000, of whom 95 percent are illiterate.

“We have begun discussing what dishes should be prepared for saheb (Rahul Gandhi). But we have no idea about what he likes,” said 35-year-old Vimla Kashyap, a resident of Jamawada village.

She gave a shy smile when asked about a rumour in the village that everyone has to shake hands with the visiting Congress MP.

Villagers said they were planning to complain to Gandhi about officials not giving them jobs under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), which guarantees 100 days of employment in a year to one member of each rural household.

Laikhan Baghel, head of Nagarnar village, about 10 km from Jagdalpur, said: “Gandhi may surprise us by choosing to stay overnight in Nagarnar.”

“We want to tell him that the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) acquired our land almost seven years ago to set up a steel plant, but has neither installed the unit nor provided us jobs as promised. We are now all under heavy debt,” Baghel said.

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