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To embarrass Rahul,MLA builds house for Amethi’s Shakuntala

Living thousands of miles apart,Kalavati of Vidarbha and Shakuntala of Amethi share more than poverty. In the poll season,they are the subjects of an economic debate and political one-upmanship.

Written by Maulshree Seth | Purana Raipur (amethi) |
April 18, 2009 3:42:08 am

Shakuntala grateful,but says they will vote for Rahul

Living thousands of miles apart,Kalavati of Vidarbha and Shakuntala of Amethi share more than poverty. In the poll season,they are the subjects of an economic debate and political one-upmanship.

Back in July 2008,during his speech in the Parliament on the occasion of the trust vote,Rahul Gandhi had mentioned Kalavati to highlight the plight of the poor. To point out that just talking about the poor does not help them,a legislator from Maharashtra has now constructed a pucca house for Amethi’s Shakuntala.

The legislator in question is Om Prakash Baburao Kadu,an Independent from Amravati,who also runs the NGO ‘Prahar’,which raised the money for the project. The Rashtriya Swabhiman Manch of Govindacharya also helped. Last monsoon,Shakuntala’s hut had collapsed and the family — which includes her rickshaw-puller husband Amrit Lal,their two children,a brother-in-law and his wife — were forced to live in the open.

One day,on his way to Rae Bareli,Kadu saw them on the roadside. He stopped to talk to the family and promised to get a house built for them. After a few months,Kadu returned with Rs 1 lakh,which he said was a donation from the people in Amravati. On February 25,the foundation of Shakuntala’s house was laid. Govindacharya was present on the occasion. And a month ago,the brick house was completed.

While Kadu could not be reached,Prahar’s head in the state,Ravindra Singh,said the idea was to highlight the plight of the poor in Rahul’s own constituency and tell the people that just talking does not help the poor.

“Rahul does just the marketing of poverty. He has no vision like his father,but his family is planning to make him the prime minister one day. This is what we are trying to tell the people through the example of Shakuntala,” said Singh.

What alternative do they suggest to the people? “If people ask for options,we tell them that they can vote for BJP’s Pradeep Singh,who has a clean image and a vision,” said Singh. “We are confident that this time,the victory margin of Rahul will certainly shrink.”

In Purana Raipur,Shakuntala has become a celebrity of sorts: they are known as the family whose house has been constructed by the people of Maharashtra. Shakuntala and her family are happy. They had never dreamt of having a pucca house. Amrit Lal earns around Rs 40 to Rs 50 a day. Shakuntala works in the godown of a spice-maker and earns around Rs 30 daily packing spices. But ask them who they will vote for on April 23,and they unhesitatingly say Rahul Gandhi. “Rahulji ka yahan bol-bala hai,to hum apna vote barbad thorina karenge? Jitne wale ko hi apna vote denge,” said Amrit Lal.

Explained Shakuntla: “We are most obliged to Kaduji and would have certainly voted for him if he was contesting from here. So why waste our vote? We will vote for Rahulji and wish that one day he will come and visit us.”

She said a Congress representative had recently visited them and requested them to vote for Rahul Gandhi. Singh was taken aback when told about Shakuntala’s voting plans. But he hastily amended,saying: “Our motive was never political. We just wanted to highlight the problems of the poor here,who are still struggling for roti,kapra and makan.”

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