Rahul goes for a stroll on busy Orissa road

April 8th, 2009 - 1:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Rahul Gandhi Bhubaneswar, April 8 (IANS) Congress party General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, who has the most stringent level of security cover in India, went for a walk on a busy road in Orissa’s Bolangir town without the knowledge of the local police, though his bodyguards were with him, officials said Wednesday.
“He decided to go for a walk Tuesday night all of a sudden. We were not aware of this,” Bolangir district Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Arora told IANS on phone.

According to officials, the 37-year-old MP arrived at Bolangir town, some 327 km from here, at about 5.30 p.m. Tuesday after addressing several election rallies across Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

Gandhi went to the government guest house located in the heart of the town where he was scheduled to stay the night.

“At about 10.30 p.m. he went out for a walk. He strolled for about a kilometre and then returned to the guest house,” said Arora.

“Although we were not aware that Gandhi went walking into town, SPG (Special Protection Group) commandos were accompanying him,” Arora added.

The road on which Gandhi chose to go for a walk is one of the busiest in the town.

When local residents saw Gandhi, clad in his usual white kurta pyjama, they gathered around him. The Congress leader was seen shaking hands with many of them, asking them about their wellbeing, officials said.

Gandhi also sipped a cup of tea in a shop near the government bus stand. Journalists from some local television channels rushed to the spot to capture the scene in their camera but the politician’s bodyguards did not allow them to do so.

Gandhi returned to the guest house after the security personnel requested him not to expose himself to danger any longer.

The son of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and late prime minister Rajeev Gandhi had done something similar during his four-day trip to the state in March last year.

He travelled to a village in Koraput district - considered a hotbed of Maoist activity - without the knowledge of the local administration, and spent nearly four hours there.

The union home ministry had then asked Gandhi to abide by the security norms because a breach could put his life in danger.

Gandhi is scheduled to address several election rallies in Orissa. The state goes to poll in two phases on April 16 and 23 to elect 147 members to the state assembly and 21 members to the Lok Sabha.

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