Rahul Gandhi on Thursday returned to the site of his most daring political escapade and found that the ride into Bhatta and Parsaul villages in the early hours of May 11 last year had converted many.
Rahul campaigned for Congress candidate Dhirendra Singh in Jewar,the constituency that includes Bhatta and Parsaul,where two farmers and policemen each were killed as a result of police firing. He did not visit Bhatta or Parsaul,which he had entered last year riding pillion behind Dhirendras brother Karanveer and violating prohibitory orders.
Since then,Jewar,held by the BSPs Horam Singh,has become the Congresss to lose. And Rahul did not have to work hard to get the crowd in sync with him.
When you asked,Why didnt we get the market rate for our land,what did you get? he egged them. Bullets, replied the crowd. You got bullets in Bhatta,Parsaul and Tappal, he echoed. Tappal is part of Aligarh seat.
I told the BJP candidate I will not vote for the party this time, said Navratan Singh of Thora village. He is a Thakur,like the Congress candidate. We are farmers. There is nothing more important to us than land. The government behaved like a dalal with us. He said his decision to shift allegiances was for two reasons We need to throw behnjis government out and Dhirendra is a good man.
Thursdays meeting was also a showcase for rising sons,with Sachin Pilot and Deepender Singh Hooda of the Congress and the RLDs Jayant Chaudhary sharing the front row with Rahul.
The organisers kept their star campaigner as the last speaker,even though Jayant arrived late. Rahul was on his feet before Dhirendra announced his name. When I went to Bhatta-Parsaul,Mayawatiji said I was mad. She said nothing of significance had happened there. So I told her,You are Chief Minister; come and see for yourself. She didnt come,of course, said Rahul.
She is a daughter of our district,and we thought she would do what Mulayam did to develop his constituency. She let us down miserably, said Marfat Khan,who practises Unani medicine and hails from Rabupura,the same locality as the Congress candidate. Mayawati hails from Gautam Buddh Nagar district,which includes Jewar. To Khan,the Yamuna Expressway does not count as development: It is for big cars and rich people. You should see the condition of the roads in our villages.
Rahul concluded his speech by extending his right palm and stretching out the fingers. Give us five years . And then,adding five more years to that request, .we will change the face of Uttar Pradesh in 10 years.