Lucknow: A rickshaw puller who helped Paytm's Vijay Shekhar Sharma make it to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's house despite a massive jam has been rewarded with Rs 6,000, a new cycle rickshaw and the promise of a new home.
Mani Ram happened to be close to the Chief Minister's 5 Kalidas Marg home when he was stopped by the "man in the kurta" he didn't know was the CEO of Paytm, one of India's top mobile wallet startups with over 122 million users.
"I took him to there....at the gate he had a word with the security guards and they let us right through," Mani Ram told NDTV.
After dropping Mr Sharma at the doorstep, literally, of his host Akhilesh Yadav, Mani Ram was about to turn back when the Chief Minister called him.
"He asked me how long I have been working here, how long I have been driving a rickshaw...where I am from..." said Mani Ram, who is from Rae Bareli, around 100 km from the Uttar Pradesh capital. He told the Chief Minister that what he wanted most was an auto-rickshaw and his own home.
The Chief Minister called his aides and handed him Rs 6,000 on the spot, as a Diwali gift. "Take a new cycle-rickshaw for now. My people will get in touch with you for the rest," he reportedly told Mani Ram.
A photo tweeted by Mr Yadav has been widely shared. "A traffic jam forced Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma to visit us in a cycle rickshaw. Lucknow Metro will help solve the traffic jams in city," he said in the tweet.
The encounter with the rickshaw puller provided the 44-year-old Chief Minister a break from an acrimonious family drama that has pitted him against his father Mulayam Singh Yadav and uncle Shivpal Yadav just months ahead of the Uttar Pradesh election.
Known for his laptop and smartphone schemes, Mr Yadav has lately amped up his doles as campaigning for the polls picks up. Today, he handed out one crore plates and glasses to children. Rival Mayawati has called it "cheap publicity".