Rahul leads farmers’ sit-down protest in Jhansi

April 18th, 2008 - 10:13 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party

Jhansi (Uttar Pradesh), April 18 (IANS) Renewing his campaign against irregularities in the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi led a sit-in demonstration by farmers here Friday. The protest action is believed to have caused another embarrassment to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) government headed by Mayawati, who was already peeved over Rahul’s repeated forays into dalit pockets in an obvious bid to retrieve the Congress vote bank, transferred over the years to the BSP.

Rahul Gandhi arrived here in the afternoon from the neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, where he was camping.

He drove down to Ghisauli village he visited earlier last week to get a first hand account of the plight of the drought-hit farmers who were also being denied employment assured under the centrally-funded NREGS.

Farmers of the village complained to Rahul that they were being denied employment under the NREGS, which guarantees 100 days’ employment in a year against a daily wage of Rs.100.

They were also reported to have made it clear to Rahul that they were not impressed with his fleeting visits.

“There is some commotion when someone like you or Chief Minister Mayawati comes here; but no sooner than you all leave, officials turn apathetic once again,” the farmers were stated to have told Rahul.

“If you are really concerned about our plight, why don’t you come and take us to the divisional commissioner?” they were understood to have said then.

It appears that Rahul decided to pay another visit to the village in such quick succession to convey that he was not the run-of-the-mill politician and actually meant business.

What left local officials at their wit’s end was Rahul’s sudden arrival at the doorstep of the divisional commissioner Monday afternoon. Farmers were already impressed by Rahul’s decision to travel 40 km from Ghisauli to the divisional commissioner’s residence in one of the five locally arranged ordinary buses.

Panic prevailed in and around the commissioner’s residence that was sealed off by cops who intercepted Rahul about 500 metres away and disallowed him from moving further.

“The divisional commissioner sent word that he was willing to meet Rahul alone, but would not allow him to bring the 200-odd farmers accompanying him”, said a local Congress party source.

Rahul sat on a dharna on the road itself along with the harried farmers, creating a piquant situation for the local officials who remained in a fix as none other than Chief Minister Mayawati herself was understood to be monitoring the developments.

Apparently, on getting a green signal from the state capital Lucknow, the commissioner agreed to let Rahul in along with the band of farmers.

After a one-to-one with commissioner P.V.Jagmohan and his team of officials, Rahul came out and told mediapersons: “I came here to convey the plight of these villagers to the commissioner; they are very poor people and they wanted that I must accompany them so that their grievance against serious discrepancies and irregularities in NREGS could be redressed.”

He said: “The commissioner has assured us that he would look into the problems relating to implementation of the NREGS in this village and would also ensure that these drought-hit farmers get employment guaranteed under the scheme on prescribed wages.”

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