Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s unscheduled two-day visit to Uttar Pradesh not only sent the Congressmen into a tizzy but also ruffled many feathers in the State administration with the Mayawati government deciding to take up the “security lapse” with the Centre.

The Amethi MP landed in Lucknow on Wednesday before whizzing towards Barabanki, Faizabad, Bahraich, Shravasti and Gonda districts in a fleet of six vehicles, including those of the Special Protection Group (SPG). He returned to Delhi on Thursday.

Stays and dines with Dalit

Mr. Gandhi, who was reportedly on a “fact-finding” mission in this part of the State, spent the intervening night in the hut of a Dalit, Chedi Ram Pasi, in Chhotey Deeh “majra” of Rampur Telihar village in Shravasti district. He also had food with him. But the Congress leader’s surprise visit has not amused the State government.

“Being an SPG protectee, Mr. Gandhi’s security is of utmost importance; the State government had no knowledge of his visit as no official tour programme had been received. The security lapse would be taken up with the Central government,” said Home Secretary Mahesh Gupta. Denying intelligence failure on the part of the State, Mr. Gupta told reporters that it was the responsibility of the Centre to inform the State government.

President of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee Rita Bahuguna Joshi said here that the State government should not worry about Mr. Gandhi’s security. “It is not necessary that his programme should be disclosed,” Dr. Joshi added.

Took a detour

After reaching Lucknow’s Amausi airport by a Kingfisher flight around 3.30 p.m., Mr. Gandhi’s cavalcade comprising six vehicles -- three Safari SUVs had been airlifted earlier by a BSF plane -- sped towards Gauriganj in Amethi parliamentary constituency. But, instead of going towards Gauriganj, where he was to inspect the Lifeline Express, Mr. Gandhi’s caravan took a detour and reached Ramnagar in Barabanki district. It was only when the Congress general secretary had reached Ramnagar around 6 p.m. and took time out for a glass of tea from a local “dhaba” and interacted with the people did the police realise that it was Mr. Gandhi.

Till that time and even till late in the night there was no official confirmation of his visit, or his programme as the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee was also not informed about his visit. From Ramnagar, Mr. Gandhi’s cavalcade sped towards Bahraich and Shravasti districts via Faizabad. After spending the night with Chedi Ram Pasi in Chhotey Deeh village perched on the Shravasti-Bahraich border, the Congress leader spent time in the village, met the students in the village school in Sirsiriya block on Thursday before his caravan entered Bhinga in Shravasti and Jarwal Road in Gonda district. He reached Barabanki around 3.25 p.m. en route to Lucknow from where he boarded a return flight to Delhi around 5.15 p.m.

Two “roughed up”

Reports said that a news stringer and a policeman in Bahraich district were allegedly roughed up by the SPG personnel guarding Mr. Gandhi.

About his unscheduled visit, the Uttar Pradesh Congress chief told newspersons that Mr. Gandhi had come to take stock of the progress of the Central schemes, mainly the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, and to meet the flood and drought-affected people. Even the local Congress MPs were not informed as he wanted to see the situation on the ground, Dr. Joshi said.

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