Crowds thronging to watch a leader might not indicate the voters' mood, but the hordes coming to watch Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi in action says something about the interest of the people of Uttar Pradesh. And if the tone and tenor of Gandhi's speeches are anything to go by, the war cry is likely to get shriller in the days to come.
On Wednesday, the second day of his public contact programme, Gandhi declared at Bahraich's Gend Ghar Maidan that both chief minister Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav cannot be called people's leaders any more.
"There was a time when these two leaders mingled with the people and shared a very strong bond with voters at the grassroot level," he said. "Now power has gone to their head and they have become insensitive and inconsiderate."
He, however, hastened to add that politically, he had learnt a lot from Yadav by watching his moves.
He further said, "MNREGA or Janani Suraksha health scheme, we make programmes for people's welfare. What is the BSP doing? From Gorakhpur to Noida, it is taking away the land of poor farmers and selling it to the builders, pocketing crores of rupees in the process."
He even took up Mayawati on her Tuesday's remark that she had never termed MNREGA a "good-for-nothing programme". Gandhi said she had made the statement on October 9, 2007, which has been duly recorded by the media.
The only way to feel the pulse of the poor was by visiting their homes and sharing their food, Gandhi said – which he proceeded to do enroute to Nanpara. At Gaura Dhanauli village, he had lunch under a mango tree and interacted with the children of Awadh Bihari Memorial school.
"My political rivals say I do this ‘natak' (drama) for publicity," he added with amused defiance. "I will not let them down on this count."