Though the Congress leaders made a strong pitch for foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail and explained how it would benefit farmers and traders, the rally was more of a show of strength than an exercise to drive home the point.
Even after passionate speeches by prime minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, many of those brought in about 2,000 buses had little clue about FDI.
“We want timely rain. We don’t know what FDI is,” said Usha Ram (68), a farmer from Rajasthan. Ramkaran (41), who travelled with him, said, “We came here because our leaders back home wanted us to.” Amid drum beats, the crowds cheered when Sonia Gandhi took on the opposition.
For many, it was their “blind support” for the party that brought them to the venue. Some like Nityanand Lamba (63) from Haryana only wanted to catch a glimpse of the ‘trinity’ — Sonia, Manmohan and Rahul — at one platform and proceeded on a city tour as soon as the speeches were over.
Village heads were seen tutoring Congress supporters. “Why don’t you tell the media that FDI would link you to markets, create jobs and prices would come down,” they said.