In a calculated political move, aimed at weaning away the Yadav vote base of the ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi visited the Yadav-dominated Harbans Khera village in Rae Bareli and highlighted their plight.
On a two-day tour of her constituency, Sonia reached the village on a surprise visit and went inside the house of a marginalised farmer Rakesh Yadav and asked the women whether they had proper sanitation facilities, electricity, drainage and water supply. Some other women from neighbouring houses too had gathered there. The women said they had none of the facilities.
“They told me that this is a Yadav village. For all the central schemes we send plenty of money to the state government, but you (the media) have seen the condition of this village. This village belongs to a particular community for which the state government should also take some responsibility,” Sonia said after coming out of the house.
She said the Centre’s responsibility is to send funds, but the development works have to be carried out by the state government. Yadavs and Muslims are the traditional votebank of the Samajwadi Party and its chief, Mulayam Singh Yadav, in his political meetings claims that the state government has worked a lot for the two communities.
Later speaking to The Indian Express, Usha Devi Yadav, wife of Rakesh Yadav, said, “Soniaji asked us about the problems. We told her that this is a Lohia village under which state government constructed a toilet outside our house, but it remains defunct as they did not provide any outlet. We neither have any proper drinking water or electricity supply.”
Sonia also visited the house of one Shyamu Yadav and inquired whether children in the local government school were getting mid-day meal and if the fair price shop in the area was providing the food-grains timely.
Earlier, she held a chaupal with local women at Binhaura village, which also happened to be OBC dominated, and asked them whether any one of them were part of any self help group.
Later in the day, aimed at drawing a comparison, she also visited OBC and Pasi (Dalit) dominated Para village in Harchandpur block, where the ONGC has established “solar energy-based water supply scheme” from its Corporate Social Responsibility fund with the capacity of 5,000 lt water and 675 watt solar panel. Forty houses in the village are being given direct water supply through the system.
“This was constructed about a month back and today Soniaji came to see whether it was functioning properly. The beneficiaries of this scheme include 15 SC and seven upper caste members. All the remaining are OBCs,” said 70-year-old Lallan Awasthi of the Para village.
Sonia also inspected the progress of development projects in her constituency, interacted with students of Central School at Civil lines, visited site of construction of Rae Bareli ring road, spices park in Harchandpur and the newly constructed community hall in the city. Earlier, she met locals, who came with their problems at Bhuvemau guest house.