Rahul Gandhi begins ‘discovering’ Chhattisgarh

April 25th, 2008 - 4:19 pm ICT by admin  


Raipur, April 25 (IANS) Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi landed in Chhattisgarh’s Ambikapur town Friday to begin a two-day tour through the state’s underdeveloped tribal belt, considered a Maoist stronghold. Gandhi reached Ambikapur, the headquarters of Surguja district, in a special plane and immediately started his road tour.

The 37-year-old Congress MP, who is on a ‘Discover India’ tour, will hold several meetings over the next two days before moving to neighbouring Madhya Pradesh Saturday evening.

The Congress leader will visit Jamawada village in Bastar district Saturday morning to “closely experience tribal culture and their lifestyle”, said a Congress leader.

He will meet artisans who are famous for their craftsmanship and have a detailed interaction with tribal students in Kanker district.

Gandhi, who started touring some of the remotest and poorest areas with a trip in Orissa March 7, has already been to Karnataka.

He has been focussing on two of the government’s flagship initiatives - the Tribals Bill and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS).

With the Congress leader travelling through Maoist strongholds, police officials are on edge. They have urged the Special Protection Group (SPG) guarding him to let them know in case of any surprise visit.

“About 5,000 policemen have been deployed in areas to be travelled by the MP in Chhattisgarh. Areas where he is going are infested by leftist insurgents,” a police official said.

State Congress president Charandas Mahant has said Gandhi was interested in travelling through Dantewada, the worst hit by Maoist violence, and even wanted to spend a night with a tribal family. But he gave up the idea as the state’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) refused to take care of his security, Mahant said.

Chief Minister Raman Singh denied the charges. “The state government will arrange his security wherever Rahul Gandhi wants to visit - even in remote areas where even food grains are supplied by helicopter for tribal civilians as roads have been blasted by landmines.”

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