As the Narendra Modi government nears completion of its first year in office, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is gearing up to switch to agitation mode. After nearly a year of inactivity, Rahul is set to embark on a series of padayatras from next month.
Ever since the Lok Sabha election defeat last May, Rahul has been focusing largely on introspection, holding meetings to find out the reason for the rout, figuring out the way ahead and dealing with other organisational issues. In between, there were four assembly elections. He also went on a nearly two-month break.
Sources said he is gearing up to embark on padayatras — which could be called ‘kisan padayatra’ — from the beginning of next month. He plans to cover as many as 15 to 18 km on foot daily visiting villages reeling under agrarian distress. The first destinations could be Maharashtra or Telangana followed by Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
The padayatras would be focused on farmers’ distress and the NDA government’s “dilution” of the land acquisition act. He would also raise issues like lack of procurement of food grains by government agencies, shortage of urea and “meagre” hike in minimum support price.
Sources said many state units have sought Rahul’s presence. “The BJP government in Haryana has lost the confidence of the people. The farming community is up in arms. If Rahul Gandhi comes, it will boost the morale of the Congress workers and help the party,” Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar said. Earlier this month, Rahul met farmers’ representatives from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab to get a sense of the crisis.
Ever since the Lok Sabha election defeat, many in Congress had suggested that Rahul hold padayatras and lead agitations. As the Congress gears up to hold an AICC session which could witness demands for making him the party president, Rahul seems to be attempting to address these concerns.