About 2,000 khaats or cots will be laid out at a ground in Rudrapur of Deoria district of Uttar Pradesh to seat participants of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with farmers today.
The “khaat sabha” is part of an extensive tour of Uttar Pradesh that Mr Gandhi begins today, aimed at energising party cadre and informing voters that the Congress is making a real bid at winning the state after 27 years. UP will vote for a new assembly early next year.
The 46-year-old Congress leader starts his 2,500-km “yatra” or journey from Deoria in eastern UP.
“My yatra from Deoria to Delhi starting September 6 is a campaign to secure the rights of the poor, farmers and labourers in government resources,” Mr Gandhi said.
He aims to cover 223 of Uttar Pradesh’s 403 assembly constituencies over almost a month.
The massive public outreach will see Mr Gandhi stopping in villages for close interactions with farmers, women and youth and for roadside meetings.
Rahul Gandhi (Centre) started the Kisan Yatra from Deoria in Uttar Pradesh.
A chunk of the yatra will be conducted on foot as Mr Gandhi goes door-to-door in villages collecting a charter of farmers’ demands. As he drives through UP, local Congress leaders will join him for his interaction with people and roadshows.
State Congress chief Raj Babbar, who is conducting his own yatra in the state, will be there today as Mr Gandhi launches his campaign, and then will keep dropping in at various points.
Mr Gandhi, the Congress has said, will focus on attacking successive governments of failing UP and being unable to alleviate the backwardness and poverty of India’s most populous state.
Critics see shades of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popular Chai Pe Charcha campaign from the 2014 national election in Mr Gandhi’s outreach programme. They have been scripted by the same man – election strategist Prashant Kishor, who is planning the UP campaign for the Congress.
The Congress has announced Sheila Dikshit, 78, as its presumptive chief minister.
In the last UP assembly election, swept by the Samajwadi Party, the Congress had won only 28 seats. In the national election two years ago, it could win only two seats in UP – Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were re-elected.
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