Projected as a ‘Shiv bhakt’ (devotee of Lord Shiva) by party workers in Amethi, Congress president   Rahul Gandhi was accorded a warm welcome by saffron clad ‘kanwarias’ in Fursatganj when he started a two-day visit to his constituency on Monday.

On his first visit to Amethi after his recent journey to Kailash Mansarovar, the Congress president was greeted by the kanwarias in Nahar Kothi, who raised “bam-bam bhole” slogans.

Before leaving for Nigohan, Rahul offered flowers before a picture of Lord Shiva and was also presented with a Shiva idol as a memento by Congress supporters.

With the Congress president’s visit to his constituency coming close on the heels of the visit to Mansarovar, the party workers made massive arrangements to project Rahul as a ‘Shiv bhakt’. Banners and posters projecting Rahul Gandhi as a ‘Shiv bhakt’ were put across Amethi. Kailash Mansarovar and Lord Shiva were also depicted on the posters and banners.

Later, addressing a meeting of women self-help groups after inaugurating the new building of Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojana in Nigohan, the Congress president said that about 16 lakh women have joined the self-help groups in Uttar Pradesh. Rahul said apart from women empowerment, the self-help groups have aided in strengthening the society.

He said that the scheme first started in Andhra Pradesh, following which it was introduced in Uttar Pradesh.

“To begin with, starting the women self-help group scheme posed a big challenge, but gradually the endeavour was a success,” said the Congress president.

Laying stress on women empowerment, Gandhi said that women have to move further ahead. He said that when the women self-help group scheme was started in Uttar Pradesh there were only five members, now the number has gone up to several lakhs.

On a two day visit to his constituency, Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to lay the foundation stone and inaugurate the schemes under the MPLAD fund. Following his meeting with the representatives of women self-help groups in Nigohan, Gandhi left for Jais where he presented five trolley transformers to his constituency.

He will address a meeting of gram pradhans associated with the Congress at Shiv Mahesh education institute in Jodhanpur Mandkha village in Jamo development block. The Congress president will also meet volunteers associated with the party’s IT cell at the Musafirkhana guest house.

On Tuesday, the Congress president will meet the people at the Musafirkhana guest house before leaving for the Collectorate building in Gauriganj where he will attend a meeting of district vigilance committee.