They jostled to see ‘handsome’ Gandhi and Omar Abdullah

April 14th, 2009 - 6:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Rahul Gandhi By Binoo Joshi
Vijaypur (Jammu and Kashmir), April 14 (IANS) Sweltering heat and dusty roads didn’t stop Suman Devi and Vidya from walking a long distance to catch a “glimpse” of two “handsome” young leaders, Omar Abdullah and Rahul Gandhi, who addressed a joint election meeting here Tuesday.

Like Devi and Vidya, hundreds of other village women dressed in their best jostled through a big crowd to see the grandson of Indira Gandhi.

“Dikhi te leche (let’s have a glimpse),” Devi in her late 40s said, as she shoved her way, pushing others to get closer to the fortified enclosure to have a close look of Gandhi and Abdullah, the scions of two political families of India.

“Both of them are handsome,” a smiling Vidya said.

The crowd for the Abdullah-Gandhi rally kept on surging. The two leaders then appeared holding each others’ hands and waving towards the crowd - a scene reminiscent of their fathers’ coming together in 1987 when Farooq Abdullah joined hands with Rajiv Gandhi to form a political alliance in Jammu and Kashmir.

And when the history repeated itself, there was a roar of approval and applause with people loudly cheering for the two young leaders - Rahul, 38, and Abdullah, 39.

For Abdullah, the big public gathering on the day he completed his first 100 days as the chief minister of the state was something he would have been dreaming of.

His party National Conference’s flags fluttering, slogan shouting crowds hailing him - “Omar Abdullah Zindabad (Long Live Omar Abdullah)” - in this town 30 km southwest of Jammu.

Not long ago, dozens of his effigies were burnt by angry crowds here during the two-month-long Amarnath agitation for remarks that he would not part even with a single inch of Kashmiri land for outsiders.

Amid all this, one man was seemingly the happiest soul. With a beaming smile, he was hugging leaders and passing last-minute instructions before the arrival of Abdullah and Gandhi.

He was the state’s Industries Minister S.S. Salathia, the only Hindu National Conference legislator elected last year from this constituency which saw the worst of the communal riots - blockade of roads, uprooting of train tracks and arson - during the Amarnath land restoration agitation.

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