PM Narendra Modi's gesture drew a loud applause from the audience in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur

BIJAPUR:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi, slated to present a pair of slippers to a tribal woman, surprised thousands of people at a public event today when he walked up to her, bent down and helped the bare-footed woman wear her new pair of slippers. The hugely symbolic gesture, welcomed by a loud applause, came during PM Modi's visit to Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district, counted among the country's most backward districts.Like everyone else, Health Minister JP Nadda, who was standing next to PM Modi when he decided to make it a memorable moment for the woman, was also taken aback.

The BJP later tweeted the video with a message: "PM Narendra Modi shows yet again why he is a 'Pradhan Sevak' in the true sense!" In another tweet, the BJP said: "One more way in which women are respected".

She was one of the thousands of women covered under the scheme launched more than a decade earlier to provide slippers to people engaged in collecting Tendu leaves in Chhattisgarh.

Under the scheme operated by the state's minor forest produce corporation, one person in each family of Tendu leaves collector is eligible for a pair of slippers. A family is eligible for a pair, according to the federation's website, only if they pluck at least 500 bundles in a year.

PM Modi had flown to the town early on Saturday and spent several hours in the state, listening to young girls such as Laxmi who spoke about the drone she had built and members of a girls' soft ball team."Who would have imagined a girl in Bijapur would be able to make a drone," PM Modi later told the public meeting, lauding the efforts of the children in the naxal-infested part of Chhattisgarh.

PM Modi, who is the first prime minister to visit the tribal district of Bijapur, also launched a health insurance scheme. inaugurated a new rail line and a passenger train between Gudum and Bhanupratapur, bringing north Bastar region on railways' map. This was the Prime Minister's fourth visit to Chhattisgarh, where assembly elections are due later in the year.