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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 21 February 2024

Karnataka polls: Rahul Gandhi catches a bus, talks to passengers about their problems

Randeep Singh Surjewala, Congress general secretary in charge of Karnataka, said it was an impromptu act by Rahul on the last day of campaigning for the May 10 Assembly elections

K.M. Rakesh Bangalore Published 09.05.23, 05:55 AM
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi interacts with students at a bus stop, in Bangalore.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi interacts with students at a bus stop, in Bangalore. PTI picture

Rahul Gandhi made a surprise visit to a coffee shop in Bangalore on Monday before boarding a city bus and talking to the passengers about their problems and his party’s promises for poll-bound Karnataka.

Rahul and Congress general secretary K.C. Venugopal went to a coffee shop on Cunningham Road around 8.30am and spent about 15 minutes talking to customers and posing for pictures.

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Randeep Singh Surjewala, Congress general secretary in charge of Karnataka, said it was an impromptu act by Rahul on the last day of campaigning for the May 10 Assembly elections. "He interacted with a lawyer and an entrepreneur who happened to be at the coffee shop," Surjewala told reporters.

“When he came out, he ran into several people, including working women and students, waiting at a nearby bus stop. He posed for pictures with them and hopped into a bus.”

Surjewala added: “He boarded a BMTC (Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation) bus to the surprise of its passengers and crew, who couldn’t believe their eyes. He generally chatted with the passengers and specifically asked the women if they were aware of the Sakhi scheme (a poll promise by the Congress, offering free rides to women on government buses across Karnataka).

“During the nearly half-hour bus ride, he met about 10 women who were obviously stunned to see him ride with them. He sat with one of them while talking to everyone else in the bus and enquiring about their welfare.”

Rahul Gandhi poses for a picture with a passenger while riding a bus from Cunningham Road to Lingarajapuram in Bangalore on Monday. (Handout picture from the Congress)

Rahul Gandhi poses for a picture with a passenger while riding a bus from Cunningham Road to Lingarajapuram in Bangalore on Monday. (Handout picture from the Congress) Sourced by The Telegraph

Surjewala said it was a pleasant experience for everyone, including Rahul. He added that Rahul shook hands with several passengers and crew members, and many of them hugged him and wished him well for the state elections and beyond.

Rahul got off at Lingarajapuram in eastern Bangalore and again interacted with a group of women near the bus stop.

“He met a teacher, an IT professional, a housewife and a student among the women and spoke to them about their problems and needs,” Surjewala said.

“He generally asked them about price rise, their work and job prospects, and briefed them about the five guarantees the Congress has given to the people of Karnataka. But all of them knew about the guarantees.”

The Congress has promised 200 free units of power to each household every month under the Gruha Jyothi scheme; 10 kilos of free rice a month for every member of poor families under the Anna Bhagya scheme; Rs 2,000 to every woman head of a household each month under the Gruha Lakshmi scheme; free bus rides for women under the Sakhi scheme; and the Yuva Nidhi scheme that offers Rs 3,000 to graduates and Rs 1,500 to diploma holders every month for two years or until they find employment, whichever is earlier.

"One of the women said she would save Rs 1,000 a month with the free bus ride scheme,” Surjewala said.

From the coffee shop to the meetings at Lingarajapuram, the interactions took up almost an hour. Rahul later left for Delhi.

Rahul had on Sunday evening made a surprise appearance at the Airlines Hotel in Bangalore where he spoke to customers and delivery boys who were waiting to pick up their orders.

“He spoke to lots of delivery boys about the problems faced by gig workers who work hard to make ends meet. He rode with one of them on his scooter for some distance to understand the problems they face,” Surjewala said.

Rahul has the knack of dropping in unannounced at small eateries and bakeries. In Wayanad, which he represented in the Lok Sabha till recently before being disqualified — he often resorted to this method to meet ordinary people in an informal environment.

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