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When Sonia rode into Surat on a truck

August 10, 2006 18:07 IST

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday had a bumpy ride on an army truck through the streets of Gujarat's financial hub Surat, where millions of people have been marooned.

Sonia and Mukherjee had to take a rugged army truck to survey the devastation caused by flooding from the swollen Ukai Dam, as officials felt cars or even sports utility vehicles would find it impossible to negotiate the waterlogged roads.

They sat on a bench behind the truck's cabin through a 13 km ride from the airport. The truck also took them around the city as they inspected the damage.

There were no elaborate security and the unsuspecting people realised that Sonia was touring the area only after the truck trundled past the pot-holed roads.

"People do not expect Sonia to travel in a truck," a Congress leader said, explaining the absence of crowds as he made frantic phone calls to gather party workers.

Earlier, on arriving at the airport after an aerial survey, the leaders had a brief meeting with military officials.

Senior officers of the army and air force briefed Sonia and Mukherjee on the relief and rescue operations.

Sagar Kulkarni in Surat
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