Microsoft chairman Bill Gates' night out in Amethi



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.

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 Shahgarh block.

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 Gandhi.

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.

PTI