NEW DELHI: Plane, four wheeler, two wheeler and on foot -- Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi did it all today as he strove to get from Delhi to Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh where five farmers were killed earlier this week. Gandhi, detained and later released by the state police, went the extra mile to meet the families of those killed in Tuesday's police firing.
He took a chartered plane from Delhi to Udaipur in Rajasthan and then left for Madhya Pradesh by road "in a four wheeler", said IG Udaipur Anand Srivastava. "In the Nimaheda town of Rajasthan's Chittorgarh district, he rode pillion for 5-7 km and reached close to the border. After the bike ride, he walked to cross the border," Srivastava said.
Determined to meet the farmers' kin, the police said he walked for about 100 metres before entering Madhya Pradesh from Dalia village in Chittorgarh. There was high drama as he crossed into MP. It turned into a rally of sorts with Gandhi leading from the front. When the police tried to push him back, he entered a field and was detained from there. Police moved in to stop Gandhi as he defied elaborate security arrangements and tried to force his way into the state from Naya Gaon in Neemuch, about 400 km from the state capital Bhopal.
Surging crowds of Congress supporters followed him, shouting slogans such as "Jai Jawaan, Jai Kisaan" and "Rahul Gandhi zindabad". Gandhi and other senior party leaders were detained by police when they tried to make their way to Mandsaur, ground zero of the protests.
They were taken to the guest house of a cement company, a police official said. There was further drama as the commotion disturbed bees in their hives near the guest house, when a stream of slogan-shouting Congress workers sought to get close to their leader.
Hundreds of workers as well as senior leaders such as Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot and Madhya Pradesh legislator Jaivardhan Singh also courted arrest. Gandhi was also accompanied by senior party leaders Digvijay Singh, Kamal Nath and Janata Dal-United's Sharad Yadav.
There were almost 2,000 people and nearly 150 vehicles with Gandhi, sources at the police control room said. The Congress vice president, along with 250 Congress leaders, was released after about four hours, SP (Neemuch) Manoj Kumar Singh said.