Rahul Gandhi makes humble driver hero in Himachal

After Vidarbha farm widow Kalawati, it was the turn of Nand Lal, a poor driver, to hog the limelight, thanks to Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi who showed interest in his well-being.

Shimla: After Vidarbha farm widow Kalawati,
it was the turn of Nand Lal, a poor driver, to hog the
limelight, thanks to Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi
who showed interest in his well-being.

It was a memorable moment for the 32-year-old drive Nand
Lal alias Nandu after a heart-to-heart talk with the Congress
MP, as he drove Gandhi to the town from airport yesterday.

After travelling some distance, Rahul Gandhi suddenly
vacated the official car and sat in the car of Congress MLA
from Baidyanath Sudhir Sharma, which was driven by Lal.

After returning from Delhi today, where he had gone (with
Sudhir Sharma), Lal said initially he felt very nervous, but
the young Gandhi "made me comfortable."

"I was hesitant whether to say namaste to him. Before
I could do so, Rahulji sitting on the front seat said namaste
to me," the 32-year-old driver said recounting the memorable
time.

The AICC general secretary, who was on a day-long visit
to the hill state had referred about the driver, while talking
to reporters to drive home the point that he is trying to know
about `Aam Aadmi` whenever he gets chance.

Recollecting the chance encounter, Lal said, "To make me
comfortable he (Rahul) gave me a chewing gum and said be
careful as it would taste a little `tikha`."

"While the car was moving towards hotel Cecil Oberoi,
Rahul asked me if I was married to which I said yes. On
enquiring about children, I said I have a daughter Shalini
Devi (6) studying in class one and a son Ankush (4) in
KG at native village Bir Billing," said the driver.

On asking about the future plans for the children, Nand
Lal said that he wants her daughter to be a doctor and send
his son to the army.

The visibly elated driver said, "I told him that I own a
small piece of land in native village in which "dhaan" (rice)
is grown. During the 22-kilometre-long journey from
Jubberhatti airport to Shimla town, Rahulji told me to stop
car at 4-5, places where he got off and interacted with
commoners."

He praised the houses in Shimla and its climate also, Lal
said and added, "At the end of the Shimla trip, when I drove
him back to Jubberhatti airport, to my utter surprise he shook
hand with me and said thanks."

Cherishing the moments, Lal said, "October 13, 2009 will
be memorable day in my life. It`s great that Rahulji made a
humble man like me a hero."

Union minister of Steel Virbhadra Singh, leader of the
opposition in Himachal Pradesh assembly Vidya Stokes, state
Congress president Kaul Singh Thakur were part of the convoy,
but Rahul Gandhi preferred to talk to the driver.

Bureau Report