TIRUCHY:The sudden presence of Rahul Gandhi in her thatched house in 2009 took 74-year-old A Rajammal to cloud nine — the leader had promised to fulfill her long-term dream of patta for the house she had been residing for several decades.
However, six years on, as the Congress vice president gears up for his Tiruchy visit on Thursday, the widow told Express that not a thing has changed since that visit and she is still awaiting the patta.
It was a repeat of the case of Kalavati Bandurkar, the widowed Vidarbha farmer who was visited by Rahul in 2008. On May 8, 2009, Rahul Gandhi, who was visiting the city, suddenly stopped his convoy and rushed into Rajammal’s house, accompanied by a team of uniformed guards. “Aap kya karthe (What are you doing?),” he had asked.
The widow, who is well-versed in Hindi as her husband had worked in the military, answered that she was engaged in domestic work in houses around Raja colony. Rahul then asked her how much she earns and the woman replied that she has been earning Rs 20 per day. Hearing this, Rahul asked if she wanted any help. Pat came the reply — she told him that she wanted patta for her house, in which she had been residing for over 45 years.
“He said he would help in getting one (patta) and left a few minutes after drinking a tumbler-full of water that I offered,” recalled Rajammal. Following that visit, Rajammal almost became a celebrity in the colony, where there are over 100 such thatched houses. The residents had settled here on return from Burma (now Myanmar) after the then CM M G Ramachandran had allotted them the place.
Media too descended on Rajammal’s humble abode, and for a while, there was excitement, which fizzled out.
Six years have passed, nothing that Rahul Gandhi promised has happened. “Not even one person from Congress visited me,” rued Rajammal. Interestingly, the Congress-led UPA government was formed in the Centre after the 2009 polls -- months after Rahul Gandhi’s visit.
The house still remains, Rajammal has aged but still keeps her hope alive and still asks for the promised patta.
“We have been fighting for patta for several years, but to no avail. But, there was a glimmer of hope when Rahul promised to make arrangements, but nothing happened. Had we received the patta, we could have solved the basic problems like drinking water and drainage,” said Kavitha, Rajammal’s granddaughter. In another blow to Rajammal, the old age pension she was receiving has stopped for more than a year, with no apparent reason. “I approached the officials, but no one came forward to help me. Finding no other go, I started rearing a milch cow, with which I meet my expenses”, said Rajammal.