Rudrapur (Uttar Pradesh): The Congress’s bid to make a splash with party vice president Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Khat Sabhas’ as part of a major outreach to farmers ahead of Uttar Pradesh assembly polls on Tuesday left it embarrassed when people attending the inaugural event made away with thousands of cots amid chaotic scenes.
Rahul on Tuesday embarked on an epic 2500 km-long ‘Kisan Mahayatra’ from Deoria in eastern Uttar Pradesh and held the first ‘Khat Sabha’ (charpoy meeting) where he interacted with the locals.
Moments after he left having made a raft of promises like farm loan waiver, reduction of power tariff and higher minimum support price for agricultural produce, the venue plunged into utter chaos with men, women and children scampering in, lifting the charpoys and hurrying towards their homes.
There were minor altercations as policemen were seen walking leisurely, stopping none from carrying away the cots.
When asked about it, a villager quipped, “Kya hai ki Rahulji ne hi diya hai (It is given by Rahulji)”, even as he gingerly balanced the rally takeaway on his shoulder.
Congress leaders, travelling with the party scion, were quick to deflect criticism over the matter, saying attacking the party on the issue would boomerang on the opposition as these khats still hold importance in the countryside. The party has arranged 10,000 khats for the entire campaign.
“Whoever tries to belittle the issue will do an injustice to the poor villagers. Certain people in this country make away with thousands of crores of rupees and when a few villagers take home a thing as innocuous as a cot, all hell breaks loose. This shows the mentality of the BJP,” Congress national spokesman Meem Afzal said.
Rahul is slated to hold hundreds of such khat sabhas and street corner meetings across his 2,500 km-long marathon yatra during which he will cover as many as 233 assembly constituencies to connect with the people ahead of the polls scheduled in 2017. The Congress party has specially got 2000 of these colourful ‘khats’ made in Bihar and other states for the event.
Earlier, Rahul reached Rudrapur via chopper and launched the party’s door-to-door campaign to collect Kisan Mangpatras (charter of farmers demands).
The ‘khaat sabha’ is believed to be the brainchild of election strategist Prashant Kishor where Rahul would interact with the farmers in the run up to the UP Assembly polls.
Kishor was also credited with conceptualising Narendra Modi’s hugely popular ‘chai pe charcha’ events during the latter’s successful prime ministerial campaign.