Congress' bed and breakfast scheme

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Moradabad, Kanpur, Allahabad, Unnao:  After a diktat from Delhi, Congress MPs, some of them first-timers, came down to various villages in Uttar Pradesh to show their connect with the Dalits on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti.

In Moradabad, Mohd Azharuddin was in an entirely different pitch, breaking bread with a Dalit family in his constituency as part of the Congress plan to reach out to Dalit votes.

So how was the experience like for the first-time MP?

"Not exactly a new experience for me. I mean I have had lot of meals like that when I was a kid, when I used to go to my aunt's village but something is different here because it is done with so much high with the cameras and everything," Azharuddin said.

Another young MP from Jhansi, Pradeep Jain Aditya, who is the Minister for State for Rural Development and often considered the blue-eyed boy of Rahul Gandhi, seem to be following in his leader's footsteps.

What will he take away from this visit?

"We will listen to their problems so that we can address them. We will ensure employment for them," he said.

If so many Congress leaders were obeying their leader's command, how can the Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi be far behind? Perhaps, in never seen before avatar, she was found helping a Dalit family in a village near Allahabad with household chores and then having food with them.

But before that she did speak to women in this all-Dalit village, which neither has roads, nor power; even clean drinking water is a luxury. Then it was time for Mayawati bashing.

"Behen ji and her ministers are sitting in Lucknow. There is so much corruption and here, people don't even have drinking water," she said.

In Kanpur, Union Coal Minister Shriprakash Jaiswal visited a Dalit basti. He first had a chat with locals, listening to what they had to say. And then it was time for dinner; on the menu was puri, sabzi and rice.

But what was meant to be a private affair, turned out to a public feast. Local Congress leaders engaged cooks to prepare the food for everyone -- the minister, those accompanying him as well as the local residents.

He, too, launched a veiled attack on the Mayawati government.

"People who made Dalits their votebank, are criticising this move by the Congress," he said.

The Congress MP from Unnao, Anu Tandon, was also seen arriving at a Dalit's house with a host of local Congress leaders. Here too, it was kind of a public celebration with the MP helping the cooks with preparing dinner.

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