KHALILABAD (UP):The half-comic scenes from Rahul Gandhi’s ‘khat sabha’ on Tuesday, where farmers made away with the cots at the end of the rally, came in handy as a metaphor for the Congress vice-president on the next leg of his Uttar Pradesh padayatra on Wednesday.
In his public speech in rain-drenched Khalilabad in Santa Kabir Nagar district, Rahul turned it into an extended critique of the state of affairs in the country . “When small farmers take away cots, the country calls them thieves, and when big industrialists like Vijay Mallya do the same thing, they are called defaulters,’’ he said.The cots at the sabha were no ordinary ‘charpaiyas’ like the ones found in the Hindi heartland. These were designer cots — woven in attractive silver, gold and bright threads. Sitting on one of those designer cots, Ramratan Prajapati, a farmer, spoke to this correspondent about how Kabir and his message still moves their lives in these parts — and this is just on the other side of Yogi Adityanath’s domain.Not everyone was speaking in dulcet tones though. A sarcastic comment one overheard was that those cots were too temptingly embellished, a bit of a distraction from absorbing the message that was coming along with it from the political leader.
“People are getting something more to talk about. There’s a sense of excitement about the Congress that I haven’t seen before….’’ Well, he has not seen the ups and downs of the Congress as long as the 72-year-old Mithailal Jaiswal. And Jaiswal is not exactly thrilled to see young men doing party work with “a motive in mind”. “It’s a long way from the grand old party old ways,” he said.The stretch bordering Nepal — from the tiny airport of Gorakhpur to Khalilabad onwards to Basti — is festooned with Congress banners and posters of Rahul with local leaders. But are the people rushing to hear the leader? It’s another political event that’s happening in a corner of their consciousness as they go about their lives. The resurrection of the Congress is a talking point, just as what’s happening in Delhi.