The world's richest man, who was on a two-day tour to
high-profile constituency, held a "chaupal" (community
meeting) at night with the residents of Gurtholia village,
sitting under a neem tree.
After a hectic day, which included long meetings with
members of the women self-help groups and visit to hospital
and health camps, Gates along with Rahul sneaked out of their
guest house in Mushiganj and reached Gurtholia village in
As the village was sans electricity, small battery
operated lamps were used to illuminate the place where Rahul
and Gates were to hold the chaupal.
The interactive session, which went on for nearly two
hours, began with the Congress leader and the Microsoft
chairman taking their "seat" on a mud platform.
During the interaction, Gates and Rahul asked the menfolk
how they felt as their women counterparts had started saving
money through groups.
At times Rahul doubled up as a translator for Gates.
Though a community dinner was organised by the group, the
duo left the place after the meeting.
"It was an exhilarating experience for us. We told them
about our self-help group and in turn they asked us to
maintain our unity. They also talked about NREGA, the flagship
rural job guarantee programme," Savitri Devi said.
"We are thankful to Rahul that he brought Gates to us. We
offered him whatever we had to eat," another villager, Bindra
Prasad Pathak, said.
After British Foreign Secretary David Miliband's visit to
Amethi in January last year, this was the second high-profile
visit to the constituency, represented four times by Rajiv
Many of the villagers did not know the name of the "gora
saheb", but they knew that their guest from abroad was "the
richest man" from America.
After suggesting rural folks to adopt computers and giving
an assurance to them to try his best to develop the area as an
IT hub, Gates left Amethi this morning.
Miliband had spent a night along with Rahul in a
ramshackle hut belonging to Shivkumari Kori, a poor Dalit, at
Simara village in Amethi during his visit.
Prior to Gates, his wife Melinda, co-founder of Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation, had visited Rae Bareli, the Lok
Sabha constituency represented by Congress president Sonia
Gandhi, in March.
Before leaving for Delhi, Rahul visited the village of
Vinod Yadav, one of the CRPF jawans killed in the deadliest
Maoist attack in Dantewada last month.
During his stay with the Yadav's family in Manikapur
village in Sangrampur block, he enquired about the well
being of his widow Savitri Devi.
Rahul assured the family of full support from the central
government and promised a job for the slain jawan's brother.
Before wrapping up his two-day visit, Rahul met the family
members of Congressman Rajjan Shukla, who was shot dead in
Juhipur village on May 4 allegedly by BSP workers.
Amethi: For Microsoft
chairman Bill Gates, it was a night out with the people of a
remote village in Amethi, the Lok Sabha constituency of
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
First Published: Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 18:00