The Congress faced another ‘khat loot’ embarrassment in Uttar Pradesh, this time in Ambedkarnagar district, as farmers took away stringed wooden cots after a rally addressed by Rahul Gandhi in the eastern belt of the poll-bound state.
Gandhi, the party vice-president, had just concluded his speech at Shiv Baba Dham and left the venue on Friday when villagers began jostling each other for the cots and grabbed them.
All efforts of members of the Team PK— members working under Congress polls strategist Prashant Kishor — to stop farmers from taking away the party-brought property proved futile.
This was the second such incident in Gandhi’s ongoing Kisan Yatra meant to strengthen the Congress in the run-up to the legislative polls early next year. The first took place at Rudrapur assembly constituency in Deoria district, from where the Delhi-bound Kisan Yatra started on September 6.
The march reached Ambedkar Nagar on Friday evening from Faizabad.
Party sources said the repeat incident might prompt the Congress to re-plan its strategy on khat sabha.
A khat sabha which the party was scheduled to organise in Allahabad district next week has been called off. The September 15 event at Sarpatipur village of trans-Ganga area was cancelled due to Eid-ul-Azha festival, party sources said.
Gandhi will, on that day, hold a road show in Allahabad.
As per senior Congress leaders, the programme schedule was changed on the advice of Ghulam Nabi Azad who suggested a day’s postponement to ensure better participation of people, especially from the Muslim community who would be presumably busy with the Eid-ul-Azha festival.
On Thursday, Congress office-bears and leaders had met to finalise the Sarpatipur village ‘khat sabha’ aimed at wooing farmers. But the Special Protection Group reportedly objected, leading to the cancellation of the ‘khat sabha’, another source said.
As per the amended schedule, Gandhi will arrive in Allahabad on September 14, and not on September 13 as earlier planned. He will spend the night at Anand Bhawan where his great-grandfather Pt Jawharlal Nehru, the country’s first prime minister, spent his formative years.
The next day, Gandhi will hold a road show.
Gandhi was earlier scheduled to enter Allahabad from Bhadoi, but now he will reach the city via Mirzapur. UPCC spokesman Kishore Varshney said the road show will pass through various localities so as to allow members of different communities to interact with the leader.
As per the plan, the road show from Swaraj Bhawan will pass through Katra, Manmohan Park, Hanuman temple crossing, fire brigade crossing, Jhonstonganj, Vivekanand Marg, Chandralok cinema hall, Ram Bhawan crossing, Sulakhi crossing and Bahadurganj.
It will enter Loknath before stopping at Neem Ka Pedh in Chowk. Here, Gandhi will pay tributes to freedom fighters, many of whom were hanged from the Neem tree. The leader will head to Nakhas Kohna and, after passing through Khuldabad crossing, Chauphatka, Sulem Sarai, Mundera, Bamrauli and Sallahapur, enter Kaushambi.