A tough test for Rahul

Aligarh, July 09: After days of hectic campaigning by Rahul Gandhi, Uttar Pradesh Congress leaders expect a big response from farmers to the mahapanchayat being organised in Aligarh on Saturday.

Gandhi has stopped at nearly 25 villages and spoken to people from about 60 villages to discuss the issue of land acquisition by the Mayawati government in the name of development.

The Bahujan Samaj Party, meanwhile, described Gandhi’s stay at Dalit homes during the padyatra as “an eyewash”.

On Friday, the last day of his campaign, Gandhi showed no signs of fatigue.

Clad in his trademark white kurta-pyjama, he began his journey early in the morning, with an increased security cover following Thursday’s arrest of a man carrying a licensed revolver.

Gandhi said his padyatra was an eye-opener in many ways.

At Dewa Ka Pura village, he told residents, “What I learnt in the past couple of days during my padyatra through rural areas I could not learn in all these years in Delhi and the Lok Sabha.”

Promising farmers that the new land acquisition bill that the UPA government plans to bring forward would be in their favour.

Explaining reasons for the delay in formulating the legislation, Gandhi said this was because of the compulsions of coalition politics.

“When we propose a draft law and ask our coalition partners if it is fine, they say it does not suit them in West Bengal and we have to change it,” he said.

At village Goralla, he talked about the unequal compensation given to farmers in various parts of the state. He repeatedly cited the example of Haryana, which, he said, had effected a smooth land acquisition process.