It was a plan — executed in perfect secrecy — that took the wind out of the sails of the Uttar Pradesh government. And it was characteristic of the man who had snubbed the Shiv Sena in Mumbai in February 2010, hopping into a local train to mingle with the crowds, leaving aside a waiting helicopter.
On Wednesday, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi cocked a snook at the Mayawati government, riding pillion on a motorbike to enter the heavily guarded Greater Noida, where Section 144 had been in place since Saturday.
Before retiring for the night on Tuesday, Gandhi had asked his staff to keep a motorbike ready. His official programme was a trip to Agra, to launch a Youth Congress membership drive in western Uttar Pradesh.
Indeed, Alwar MP Jitendra Singh and other Youth Congress functionaries had already reached Agra for the launch, which was to be followed by a rally.
Around 4.30am, Gandhi left his Lutyens’ Delhi home in a car. And on the way, he unveiled the fresh plans, using his BlackBerry.
Like US President Barack Obama, Gandhi is an avid BlackBerry user.
Around 5am, the central and the state Congress leaders joined him at Rabupura. Once the convoy reached Mirzapur village, Gandhi switched his car for the waiting motorcycle to reach Bhatta Parsaul village around 6 am, giving a slip to the local police.
After interacting with the farmers and villagers, he began his ‘dharna’. A close aide said the protest will continue till the Mayawati government gives in.
This is not the first time that Gandhi has sat on a dharna to fight for the rights of the people. In April 2008, he took part in a sit-in demonstration near the divisional commissioner’s office in Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh in support of the rights of the villagers.