In Delhi on Rahul Gandhi's invitation, villagers from Ralegansiddhi told they do not have appointment with Congress leader; disgusted with experience, delegation decides to fly back home
Ralegansiddhi Sarpanch Jaisingh Mapari, who was invited to Delhi along with a delegation from his village to meet Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, says he now does not want to see the young politician's face ever in his life. Apparently told the Congress leader had not given them an appointment, the villagers turned back without meeting Gandhi.
Snubbed: Ralegansiddhi Sarpanch Jaisingh Mapari with Anna Hazare
The sarpanch of anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare's village was officially invited to Delhi by Gandhi a few days ago. Ralegansiddhi has been hailed as a model of rural development and now, after Hazare's recent agitations for the Jan Lokpal bill, it has become known all over the country. The delegation had been invited to Delhi by Gandhi to discuss the development achieved by Ralegansiddhi.
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi. Mapari says the delegation later received
an apology from Congress MP P T Thomas but decided against giving
Gandhi a second chance. File pic
According to Mapari, when he went to meet Gandhi with other people from his village yesterday, he was told the Congress leader had not given them an appointment. Mapari and the others decided to leave Delhi immediately because they felt snubbed when Gandhi did not keep the 9 am appointment they said he had given them.
Mapari also hinted that the incident might lead to a widening of the rift between Hazare and the Congress.
"I don't want to see the face of Rahul Gandhi anymore, because we all feel cheated by the Congressmen," Mapari said over the phone as he was readying to board a flight back home from Delhi at 8.45 pm. The sarpanch said Congress MP P T Thomas, who had invited the delegation on Gandhi's behalf, apologised to him and the others and asked them to stay in Delhi for the next two days. The delegation, comprising of the sarpanch, Suresh Pathare, Bhagwan Pathare, Sampatrao Mapari and Ramdas Ogale, decided against giving Gandhi a second chance.
"We were expecting a good and cordial meeting with Rahul Gandhi to have a meaningful dialogue. We were told to discuss the issue of Adarsh Gaon Yojana and the progress of Ralegansiddhi with Gandhi," Mapari said. "Nothing happened and we have to leave Delhi with a feeling of humiliation. We are reaching Pune by 10.30 pm, and will be in Ralegansiddhi by midnight." The delegation's trip to Delhi had had Hazare's blessings.
"After learning of what had happened, Hazare himself asked us to leave Delhi immediately," said Suresh Pathare. "We did not even stay at the flat offered by Thomas and stayed at our friend's home in Delhi. I was shocked when I saw a TV news broadcast saying Rahul shall not meet us. The meeting was scheduled at Tughlak Lane in Thomas' office."
Mapari said, "We did not even ask for the travel expense, which was promised by Thomas. Actually, there was an encouraging atmosphere at Ralegansiddhi when Thomas extended the invitation on behalf of Rahul Gandhi. Thomas was impressed by the development in our village when he visited Ralegansiddhi a few days ago. He said that Rahul Gandhi might be keen to know about our village. Before leaving Ralegansiddhi, Thomas extended an invitation to meet Gandhi in Delhi on October 18 at 9 am."
According to Mapari, everything was fine till they reached Delhi airport and were received by a car sent by Thomas. "When we reached his office before 7 am, we were told that there is no such appointment with Rahul," Mapari said. "How do we trust Thomas when he says he can arrange the meeting with Gandhi in the next two days."