Formally kicking off his party's campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today paid obeisance at the dargah of renowned sufi saint Haji Waris Ali Shah and held a road show in Barabanki.
Gandhi arrived at the state capital this morning and held an "off-the-record" interaction with editors and bureau chiefs of various media organisations.
Later, he met aanganwadi workers and women self-help group members at a village on the outskirts of the state capital. During the meeting, he laid stress on women empowerment and promised to take up their problems.
After the meeting, the Congress MP left for the Deva Sharif dargah in Barabanki where he offered a 'chadar'.
During the 2009 elections campaign too, Gandhi were to visit the dargah, but had to change his plans due to some undisclosed reasons.
On the route to the dargah, Gandhi was accorded warm welcome at Mati and Gopalpur by activists of Congress' youth and student wings.
During the road show along with local MP P L Punia, party workers and locals showered flowers on him. Excitement was visible specially in Barabanki town where youths gathered on both sides of the road to get a glimpse of the Congress scion.
At the railway station road and Lucknow-Faizabad road, Gram Rojgar Welfare Association and MNREGS Technical Assistant Welfare Association complained to him about non-payment of their honorarium. Gandhi received their memorandum, and assured them of necessary action.
In Lajpatnagar locality, a Sikh dominated area in Barabanki city, some people tried to tie a turban on him but when they failed to do so due to security reasons, he took it and put it around his neck amidst cheers.
During his meeting with aanganwadi workers and self-help group members, Gandhi stressed that women empowerment was a must for the country's development and called upon them to identify their strength.
"Women would have to identify their strength and become self reliant to improve the future of their families and the country," Gandhi said at Sarai Shekh village of Chinhat on the outskirts of Lucknow.
Gandhi pointed out that through self-help groups lakhs of women had found employment and were making important contribution to their family income.
During the meeting, aanganwadi workers raised the issue of delay in payment of their honorarium. Promising help, Gandhi exhorted them to come forward and fight for their own cause.