Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday began a Kisan Yatra — or farmers' rally — in Uttar Pradesh as part of the party's campaign to wean away voters from local bigwigs like the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP), besides its biggest national rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
However, chaos ruled at one of the programmes organised as part of the rally, with people jostling to take away the khatiyas — four-legged cot frames with coir-ropes forming place for sitting — that had been brought for it.
The Congress aims, with this rally, to rejuvenate its party cadre in the state and push for a return to power in the politically important state after a 27-year hiatus. The rally is part of the campaign to win the Assembly elections that take place in 2017.
The state's political significance stems from the fact that it has sent the most number of prime ministers to office, the latest of which is current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2014 from Varanasi.
The Gandhi scion had, last Saturday, said on Twitter that the rally was aimed at securing the rights of the poor, farmers and labourers in government resources and schemes.
The three-day rally — which will culminate in Delhi — started from Deoria on Tuesday, with Rahul himself going door to door to listen to the demands of farmers.
As part of its push to woo farmers in the largely agricultural state, that is also the largest sugarcane producer in India, the Congress is collecting Kisan Maang Patras — documents that detail the demands of farmers — and also promising loan waivers and half-rate electricity. The last two promises are written in large alphabets on the front of one of the vehicles that is leading the rally.
Subsequently, in a show of solidarity with the local people, Rahul also offered prayers at the Dugdheswhar Nath Temple in Rudrapur.
However, when it came to the khat sabha, people were seen jostling to get a hold of one of the many khatiyas brought for the occasion. Several of the wooden cots looked like they had been broken in the wrangling that had ensued after the end of the meeting. Watch the video here: