Amethi: When Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi interacted with corporate India in the first week of April, there were talks of aspirations and his vision of India but does he actually understand the vision of his constituents in Amethi? CNN-IBN travelled to ground zero in Amethi to understand the mood of the young and the old.
Brothers Sandeep and Yogendra sounded extremely bitter. They told us that the absence of technical education was forcing students out of Amethi. "Technical education ka centre nahin hai... students want that..." said one of them.
For the engineering students, Rahul's talk of aspirations is all smoke. "Practical karein toh achcha hoga. Theoretical batein karte hain. Pehle Amethi ko dekhein, samjhe...road aur transportation ka intezaam karein (Rahul must walk the talk. He needs to understand the needs of his constituency first. Mere talks won't help)," said Pawan Singh Rathore, a fourth year student of Mechanical Engineering.
Jagdishpur in Amethi was once an industrial hub. Today most of the factories there are shut. Khurshid Aziz, a Congress party worker, shut his small factory last year. He was not able to manage the working capital. He told us that Rahul had assured locals that he would try for a Special Economic Zone in Amethi. Though nothing happened, he doesn't blame Rahul.
"VVIP neta hain Rahulji. UP government ne support nahin kiya land acquisition mein. (There are few things that Rahul Gandhi wants to do but is unable to do them. Then there are things which are in the process but there are problems with them too. State government is not cooperating with him)," Khurshid Aziz said.
In Amethi's Semra village, Shivkumari showed us where Rahul and former British Foreign Secretary David Milliband spent a much publicised night at her home in January of 2009. After that, little changed for Shivkumari. She got a NREGA card, but said that the village pradhan did not allot her any work.
"After he left, neighbours said I have got Rs 5 lakh but I got nothing," she said.
Two of her five children have now dropped out of school for lack of money. A bitter Shivkumari said, "He said arrangements will be made for education of children. Nothing happened. He promised that he'll take care of expenses for my children's education but I got nothing."
Rahul also visited a Dalit family in 2008. The homemaker Sunita, however, alleged that her jealous neighbours burnt her home down and that her husband, who was given a job for two years, was jobless again.
Amethi's homes have always played perfect hosts to Rahul Gandhi and his foreign friends in their discovery of India. Though nothing much has changed in their lives except for being mentioned in his speeches, they hope that just as they have never failed the Gandhi family, the family in return would deliver too.
A knight in shining armour or a man of empty promises? Amethi is today asking if Rahul really cares.