Rahul tells a Tunisia tale to boost street vendors' morale

Last Updated 29 March 2014, 19:54 IST

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday evening invoked the “immense power” of street vendors by reminding them that it was a self-immolation bid by one of their brethren in far away Tunisia that triggered the Arab Spring, the series of public protests in West Asian countries.

At a gathering of street vendors organised by National Association of Street Vendors of India, Gandhi also assured them massive police reforms to prevent their exploitation by cops.

He also promised them that he would change the way politics is practised in the country and take steps to ensure that the voice of the common man was reflected in drafting government policies.

The Congress vice-president told the street vendors that addressing their concerns was top on the agenda of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Gandhi recalled his meeting with noted Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, who narrated the incident that sparked the Arab Spring.


A fruit-seller’s wares were seized by the police in a Tunisian town. The poor vendor, who could not feed his family for a couple days, set himself on fire.

This was the tipping point for the Tunisians who took to the streets in millions to protest, he said.

The Congress vice president said the party would give the poor the right to healthcare and housing.

Basic protection

“We want to give the poor some basic protection so that they can go about doing their business without any worries about healthcare and housing,” he said.

The 43-year-old leader also listed out the efforts made by the party to involve the common man in key election-related initiatives of the party such as drafting of the manifesto and electing their candidates.

(Published 29 March 2014, 19:53 IST)

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