Tummaluru (Guntur), Sept. 1: Some in this village think Sonia Gandhi is the Mahatma’s granddaughter.
A 25-year-old farm labourer is convinced she is the daughter of “our Indiramma”.
And very few had any idea who Rajiv Gandhi was.
It hardly mattered. What was important was a third Gandhi had come to their village to renew a bond the Mahatma had created nearly 65 years ago when he came here during the Quit India movement.
Nearly every resident locked his home and came out to see the Congress chief this afternoon when she stopped over in this village of freedom fighters for about two hours, inaugurated the second phase of the Indiramma housing scheme for the poor and visited a clay hut.
Asked who had come to their village, farm worker Gali Nagaraju said: “Don’t fool me, I know it is the daughter of our Indiramma.”
The young man’s knowledge of history is poor, but Madamma, whose late husband was a freedom fighter, remembers the day the Mahatma set foot in this fertile village.
“Mahatma Gandhi visited our village as part of his Quit India movement in which my late husband and several other youths participated,” she said, her eyes misty with memory.
Later, Jawaharlal Nehru had come with his daughter, Indira Gandhi, and opened a library. That was in the fifties. But the villagers have preserved the visitors’ book where Nehru signed.
Sonia chose to visit Tummaluru, 30km from Guntur, during her five-hour tour of Andhra Pradesh because she wanted to pay tribute to the women of self-help groups that have helped revive the village economy and stalled migration to cities in search of work.
At the clay hut she visited, Sonia asked the woman of the house how she kept her home so clean.
While interacting with the self-help groups, she asked one woman whether the land and the house the government had allotted were in her name.
“It is in my name and my husband has been very good to me since then,” the woman replied.
In Rajahmundry, on the bank of the Godavari, Sonia launched the Rajiv Gruha Kalpa and the Rajiv Swagruha schemes for urban low-income groups.
Under the Indiramma programme, the Congress-led state government aims to build 70 lakh houses for the rural poor. Twelve lakh houses are ready for possession and, by the end of next year, the Congress-led government plans to build another 22 lakh under the second phase Sonia launched today.
The Congress chief urged the women to take the lead in shaping the livelihood of not only their families but also of their entire village.
“My government has taken up the ambitious programme of housing all the eligible poor below the poverty line by 2009,” Sonia told them.