New Delhi/Leh: Reaching out to the victims of
cloudburst here, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today promised
them all possible help and lauded the security forces for
their massive relief and rehabilitation effort.
Rahul, who arrived a day before Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh`s scheduled visit here, took stock of the
situation in the worst-affected Choglamsar where numerous
houses were buried under the slush following the cloudburst on
August 5 night.
"The Prime Minister is coming tomorrow. Tell him about
the shortcomings freely. Don`t be afraid," the 40-year-old
Congress leader, dressed in a white kurta-pyjama, told the
victims who have taken shelter at a relief camp after they
narrated to him their problems.
He said he will also convey their difficulties to the
Prime Minister and will do everything possible to provide them
all necessary help.
During the five-hour visit, Rahul, who accompanied
Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju, visited a
military hospital at Leh, where he interacted with patients
who had sustained injuries during the calamity.
Rahul and the minister, who reached here by a special
aircraft at about 8:30 AM, made an aerial survey of the
affected areas of the district.
The Congress general secretary also stopped at the ITBP
campus here where he praised the work done by security forces
and later visited a relief camp run by the Border Roads
Rahul was also accompanied by Jammu and Kashmir Tourism
Minister and local MLA Nawang Rigzin Zora and Chairman of the
Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Chering Dorjay.
"I am very happy that he came here and spoke to us. I
believe that he will help us as promised," said Jigmat
Yangcham, a first year psychology student of Leizer Joldan
Memorial College said.
Asked whether she felt happy about meeting Rahul the
politician or Rahul as a person she said "both".
Yangcham, who was crying when she first spoke to Rahul
was all smiles by the time he left.
He sat on the plain dusty ground and listened to the
villagers pouring their hearts out. He went under the
barricades to visit a tent set up for the victims.
At times, he could be seen having an intense
conversation with children. He even spoke in English to a
child and patted his head when the child said he wants to be a
teacher when he grows up.
Sporting a stubble, Rahul enthralled them with his plain
speaking and rapport building skills.
"He is just like any of us. Remove the security and he
looks like any other regular person," said Taki, a Taxi driver
who waited for over an hour to catch a glimpse of the Congress
While Rahul shied away from the media, repeated requests
for a quick interaction was met with only a smile.