Congress star campaigner and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra sprung a surprise of sorts, when she rushed to Meerut town, about 450 km from here, on Wednesday to meet the ailing Scheduled Caste leader Chandrashekhar alias Ravan at a hospital there.
The meeting, that lasted around ten minutes and came a day after BSP supremo Mayawati categorically ruled out any alliance with the Congress in Uttar Pradesh or the other states, set the tongues wagging in the political circles here.
Though Priyanka said that no "political meaning" should be attached to the meeting, the presence of the Congress nominee from the Saharanpur Lok Sabha seat at the hospital fueled speculation about a possible tie-up between Chandrashekhar's Bheem Army, a predominantly SC outfit, and the grand old party in the state in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.
Chandrashekhar shot to limelight after he led protests in Saharanpur and some other western Uttar Pradesh districts following the killing of two members of the Scheduled Caste community in clash with the powerful 'Thakur' community members last year.
He was taken into custody when he tried to take out a procession at Deoband in Saharanpur district, about 500 km from here, on Monday. He was later admitted to a hospital in Meerut by the police after complaining of unease.
"I came here to pledge my support to Chandrashekhar, who has been fighting for the rights of his people... we are with him," Priyanka said. She also accused the Uttar Pradesh government of "suppressing" the voice of the youths.
Chandrashekhar reportedly addressed Priyanka as "behen" (sister) and thanked her for visiting him. "She said 'bhai kaise ho? (brother, how are you?). I replied: that behen, I am better," he said.
Priyanka was accompanied by state Congress president Raj Babbar and west UP in-charge Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Sources said that Imran Masood, who was also at the hospital, had requested Priyanka to visit Chandrashekhar.