Rahul Gandhi meets rickshaw pullers, promises to improve their lives

Written by PTI | Varanasi | Updated: Mar 2 2014, 01:05am hrs
"I was thinking of working as a rickshaw puller for a day to understand your problems," Rahul Gandhi today said as he sought to reach out to rickshaw pullers and autorickshaw drivers as part of his pre-manifesto exercise of interacting with various stakeholders.

Gandhi, however, added that he knew it would not be enough to "feel their pain" and vowed that Congress would take steps to improve their lives.

"I thank you all. You have sacrificed your day's earnings for coming here to listen to me. I assure you all, that I would do everything possible to regain your dignity, to improve your lives and save you all from all sorts of difficulties that you have to go through each and everyday," he said during the nearly 90-minute interaction held at the Cantt Railway Station here.

Gandhi said that the Centre had started several schemes for the weaker sections which were successfully running in all Congress ruled states but claimed that their benefits were not reaching the poor in Uttar Pradesh.

"All the schemes run by the Centre are visible in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra...primary schools are functioning better in these states but they fail in UP...Centre's schemes don't reach the poor in UP," he said as the participants informed him of their grievances.

Explaining the motive of his visit, Gandhi, who also visited the Kanshi Vishwanath temple, said the election manifesto of Congress party "which was earlier made by party leaders will now be made by you".

Gandhi was visibly moved as the rickshawpullers told him about their daily struggle, especially harassment by policemen.

They alleged that they had to bribe the police to enter the Cant Railway station, where they were interacting with him.

Bonti Chutia's neighbours claimed on television channels that on her return home, her husband Someswar Chutia (44) had an argument with her as he was against her going for the interaction and was unhappy on seeing her on television channels hugging and kissing Gandhi.

When the news of Bonti kissing Gandhi attracted wide publicity in the area the next day, the neighbours alleged her husband got furious and fought with her after locking her up in a room.

Later, he set her ablaze after pouring kerosene on her,they alleged.

Someswar also got burnt critically when they had a scuffle as Bonti tried to save herself, the people claimed.

According to police sources, Bonti died of 95 per cent burn injuries in Jorhat Medical College Hospital last evening.

Her husband, who was also admitted to the hospital with her, was shifted to the Assam Medical College in Dibrugarh in critical condition.

The neighbours also alleged that Someswar was against Bonti joining politics and this had led to frequent clashes between them.

During the interaction, telecast live in the local news channels, a few of the women present were seen hugging and kissing the Gandhi scion in a show of their love, affection and support for him.