Rahul Gandhi faces angry Congress workers in Amethi

May 16th, 2008 - 5:12 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi
By Darshan Desai
Amethi (Uttar Pradesh), May 16 (IANS) Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi was Friday stunned when an angry crowd of party workers at his constituency here accused him of failing to help them get work in a state-run company. As Gandhi reached Jagdishpur village, his first stop after Lucknow some 70 km away, a group of party workers gathered outside the venue of a function forced his car to halt.

As the young Congress leader rolled down his window, furious activists just stopped short of screaming at him. It was a scene no one remembered seeing in Amethi, a Gandhi family bastion now represented by Rahul Gandhi in the Lok Sabha.

The protesters were angry that despite Gandhi’s promise six months ago, not a single person of around 100 people who had lost their land to a Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) plant at Jagdishpur had got a job.

The land for the BHEL plant had been acquired in 1976 with a promise that jobs would go to the locals. The factory started working in 1983.

“We have given him a 15-day ultimatum to resolve the issue, otherwise we will resort to an indefinite hunger strike,” Akhtar Ali, a Congress worker from Kamroli village, told IANS.

It is the first time Congress workers have spoken so menacingly vis-a-vis any member of the Gandhi family — that too publicly — in Amethi.

Ali claimed the Congress leader had promised to speak to the chairman of BHEL within a fortnight to try to resolve the issue.

“We will believe this only when it happens. He didn’t say our people would get jobs but that he would only speak to the authorities concerned,” pointed out Dinesh Kumar Yadav, another cynical party worker.

Others at the protest site also aired their grievances. Amethi adjoins Rae Bareli, another Gandhi family stronghold which Congress president Sonia Gandhi represents in the Lok Sabha.

“Not a single person from the VIP constituences of Amethi and Rae Bareli whose land had been acquired for the BHEL plant has been given a job,” added Mohammad Ahmed, general secretary of the Youth Congress in Jagdishpur.

He said it was ironical that none other than Rahul Gandhi had persuaded them to end their sit in Feb 16 with a promise to resolve the issue in favour of the locals.

“We have been struggling for over 20 years,” wailed Mohammad Nadeem, another party worker. He said he was disgusted that even Congress workers had to suffer like this.

Meanwhile, several Congress workers were unhappy that they could not enter the two places Gandhi visited in Amethi by midday.

They had been issued admit cards but the police still drove them away for reaching the venue late although the Congress leader was running behind schedule.

“I am an old man, so what if I got 20 minutes late? I used to be here to welcome Jawaharlal Nehru. The police or the Congress won’t understand this,” Jauharilal Upadhyaya, in his late 70s, told IANS.

Another man, Mohammad Yunus, was seen pleading with the police to let him enter the venue. The media was also kept away.

Gandhi first attended a workshop on national integration organised by the Nehru Yuva Kendra in Jagdishpur. He later addressed a meeting of block presidents of the Congress Amethi unit.

He is also to oversee the launch of a micro financing scheme in Kohar village.

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