Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday stopped by a roadside eatery in north Karnataka's Raichur town and munched hot and spicy pakodas and bhajjis and sipped tea in a plastic cup along with state Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and other party officials.
"Gandhi alighted from the special bus in which he is touring the district and entered the eatery to munch spicy pakodas and bhajjis, served on a paper plate, and sipped tea in a plastic cup, sitting comfortably on a wooden bench," a party official told IANS here, about 500 km from the state capital Bengaluru.
Pakodas and bhajjis are made of cereal powder paste mixed with grated onion and green chillies and coriander leaves, fried in oil.
Gandhi is on a maiden visit to Karnataka since Saturday after becoming the party president in December. He is touring the northern region since Saturday on a 'Jan Ashirwad Yatra' for the people's blessings ahead of the assembly polls in the state, due in late April or early May.
Gandhi's surprise act of stopping by the roadside eatery drew curious crowds and surprised the owner of the eatery and his assistants who were delighted to serve the 47-year-old scion of the Gandhi family in the way they do for ordinary customers.
Though stopping by the eatery was not in the schedule, Gandhi asked the driver to stop the bus on the roadside and walked into the open eatery along with his security men and sat on one of its benches for the hot snacks.
"Pakodas and bhajjis are popular snacks in the region, which is semi-arid and hotter than other parts of the state. They are a side dish served at breakfast, for lunch and dinner in homes and eateries.
State Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, party's state unit president G. Parameshwara, party's leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, and party's state in-charge and lawmaker K.C. Venugopal also joined Gandhi in sharing the snacks and sipping the "Irani" chai, famous in the Deccan region.
"When Rahul asked the eatery owner how the business was and how much he earned a day, the latter told him about Rs 2,000 on average. Rahul took out a Rs 2,000 note and gave it to the owner for serving him and about 50 party leaders and cadres on the occasion," recalled the official.
After touring Koppal and Ballari districts on the weekend, Gandhi is touring Raichur, Yadgir, Kalaburgi and Bidar in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region on Monday and Tuesday to interact with people, farmers, women and children for boosting the party's poll prospects to retain power in the state.
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