Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday took his fight against the contentious land acquisition bill to Punjab as he travelled by train to the grain bowl of the NDA-ruled state and met farmers to see their condition "with my own eyes".
Dressed in a brown tee and jeans and sporting a stubble, the Congress vice-president reached Ambala in Haryana bordering Punjab this evening sitting in a general compartment of the Sachkhand express before he drove down to the local Anaj Mandi in Fategarh Sahib district.
"I have been told that the situation is very bad. So I want to see it with my own eyes.
"I am going to Punjab. I had also stated in my speech (in Parliament) that those who provide grains to the country, food to the country, from them their land is being snatched. This is wrong and we will counter it," Gandhi told reporters from his window seat earlier at the New Delhi Railway station from where he boarded the train.
Congress leaders Jyotiraditya Scindia and Shakeel Ahmed,who is AICC in-charge of Punjab, accompanied Gandhi.
Asked to respond to the criticism that his visit to Punjab was a "drama" and was political, Gandhi shot back," What do they want to make everything non-political?"
Gandhi is scheduled to visit Khanna and Gobindgarh and will take stock of the situation in the state's grain markets
where farmers are finding it difficult to sell their produce after the recent unseasonal rains.
Khanna grain market is considered one of the largest grain markets in Asia.
The visit came at a time when farmers in the region have accused the government of tardy wheat procurement. The state has also been witnessed suicides by farmers.
Punjab Congress leaders including state unit President Partap Singh Bajwa, former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, and leader of opposition in state assembly Sunil Jakhar were present during Gandhi's interaction with the farmers. Amritsar MP and Deputy Leader in Lok Sabha Amarinder Singh was not present.
One of the farmers Surjit Singh Dadu, who hailed from Majjra village, told Gandhi that the condition of farmers in the state was very bad.
"Nobody is procuring the produce and I have a debt of Rs 13.5 lakh. No money has been paid by any agency during the past 28 days," the farmer told the Congress vice -president.
The interaction with the farmers and labourers took place along the wheat stacks kept at the Mandi.
Union Minister and Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur dubbed Gandhi's visit to the mandi as a "drama".