Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi once again took the Mayawati government by surprise when he arrived at the twin villages of Bhatta-Parsaul in Greater Noida on Tuesday.
On May 9, Gandhi had defied prohibitory orders, rode pillion on a motorcycle before daybreak and got arrested while protesting against the Uttar Pradesh government's land acquisition at Bhatta-Parsaul for the Yamuna Expressway linking Noida and Agra.On Tuesday, Gandhi sneaked into the villages as part of his four-day padyatra to garner support for a farmers’ mahapanchayat in Aligarh on July 9.
Gandhi, who plans to cover 100 km from Bhatta to Aligarh, traveled 33 km on the first day of his four-day padyatra.
“I am listening to you, I am with you,” said Gandhi even as he listened more and spoke less at the chaupal (village congregation) in Nangla Bhutauna off the Yamuna Expressway. “I have not met a single farmer who does not want to sell his land. They only want adequate compensation,” he said.
Gandhi directed party leaders not to join him in the padyatra, and instead concentrate on mobilising mass support for the mahapanchayat.
At Bhatta, Gandhi sat on a cot, addressed the villagers as Dada, Amma and Didi, and held a smiling child in a school uniform while he interacted with those affected in the May 7 violence when two villagers and two policemen were killed in a clash between the police against protesting farmers. Village elders reciprocated by calling him Beta. Gandhi shared a meal of dal, chapattis and buttermilk at the house of one Rajveer Singh in Nangla Bhutauna, where he rested for a while. He rested after visiting more than 10 villages.