In a move that is bound to irk Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi once again joined a Dalit family for dinner in a village in Amethi on Friday night.
Gandhi, who waited till the media entourage pursuing him gave up for the day, sneaked out of his Munshiganj guest house at 11 pm.
He reportedly defied the suggestions of the Special Protection Group and traveled to some Dalit villages 20 kms away, including Banpurwa and Sarai. He freely mingled with the villagers, asking them about their daily problems and inquiring if the benefits of the various centrally sponsored schemes were reaching them.
Rahul surprised the women of the village by walking into a meeting of the local self-help group at Banpurwa. He readily accepted their offer to join them for dinner. He sat on the floor, flanked by the villagers, and ate out of a pattal (crude plate made of leaves).
The scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family reportedly feasted on puri sabzi , dal-chawal and salad, prepared by the women from the self-help group.
Parveen Saroj, a middle-aged women, later told rediff.com, "Rahul bhaiya asked me about my problems and he has now promised to get my widow pension expedited; and he means business."
Gajhadar Saroj, a physically challenged Dalit from the same village, said, "I requested him for some financial assistance to start a small business so that I could make ends meet, and he has promised to do something to help me."
In Sarai-Manjha, Rahul tried to gather information about the difficulties faced by the target beneficiaries in the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
According to Congress sources, Rahul had planned to spend the night in Banpurwa village. However, a high velocity dust storm prompted his security personnel to persuade Rahul to return to Amethi at around 2 am
Earlier on Friday, he had walked into a Dalit home in Pindara village near Jagdishpur, where he had addressed another meeting of a women's self-help group.
Rahul began his Saturday with an open house on the lawns of the Munshiganj guest house, where me met over 300 people, from various parts of Amethi. He later traveled to Jais to attend another meeting of a women's self-help group. The Congress general secretary then traveled on to Lucknow, from where he took a flight to Delhi.