The Congress leader flew to Varanasi around noon and drove to the Cantonment railway station amid tight security. As his cavalcade drove through the lanes of the temple city, people lined up on the roadside to catch a glimpse of him.

Gandhi was accompanied by party general secretary Madhusudan Mistry and Union Minister Oscar Fernandes.

Gandhi spoke to the rickshaw pullers and inquired about health and insurance facilities during the 90-minute interaction.

The rickshaw pullers told Gandhi about their problems, especially harassment at the hands of police. During the interaction, Gandhi also inquired from Fernandes on the social schemes for the unorganised sector.

Fernandes said he will ask the Uttar Pradesh government to provide for insurance and medical benefits to families living below the poverty line.

Gandhi later prayed at the Kashi Vishwanath temple. He performed a "rudra abhishek" (special puja to Lord Shiva).

The Congress leader also held a brief meeting with Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma in Lucknow.

(Agencies)

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