After having skipped the party’s protest against the land acquisition ordinance last month, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is likely to join an agitation by farmers from Bhatta-Parsaul on the issue in Delhi on March 16.
Congress sources said farmers of the twin villages on the outskirts of Delhi would start a march against the BJP-led NDA government’s move from Bhatta-Parsaul on March 14 and hold a sit-in demonstration at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on March 16.
Rahul, who is currently on a leave of absence to reflect on recent electoral drubbings and the party’s future course, is expected to join the protest at Jantar Mantar, a Congress leader said. “He is set to resume party work next week,” the leader said amid intense speculation about his whereabouts.
The Congress has planned a countrywide agitation against the government’s policies on farm, land and labour reforms, issues the main opposition party thinks will help it reconnect with eroding traditional support base.
The party has been maintaining that its opposition to the land bill was non-negotiable and that it will go to any extent to ensure that it is withdrawn and the provisions of the original UPA law restored.
Calling the BJP-led government’s land bill as ill-conceived, pro-corporate and anti-farmer, it held a 'zameen wapasi andolan' at Jantar Mantar on February 25.
Bhatta and Parsaul villages witnessed bloody clashes in 2011 over the Mayawati government’s land acquisition policy. Four people, including two policemen, died in the clashes. Rahul had then avoided security and sneaked into the affected areas.
His 19-hour protest sit-in turned the non-descript villages into political hotspots ahead of the 2012 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. He was later detained by Uttar Pradesh police and released at Delhi borders. The situation in the twin villages was then compared with that in Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal. However, the Congress failed to cash in on the incident and yet again faced the drubbing in the 2012 state assembly elections.