Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will march 15 kilometres through the villages of Telangana to emphasise the plight of beleaguered farmers during his two-day visit to the state that begins on Thursday, party leaders said.
Gandhi’s trip is part of an effort to reach out to the farmers and poor, as he aims to channel rural angst against the NDA government’s policies to breathe new life into his party that has been hit by a flurry of electoral defeats.
Despite aggressive campaigning and claiming credit for Telangana being granted statehood last year, the Congress lost the elections here in 2014.
The 44-year-old lawmaker is travelling to Telangana after trips to rural Maharashtra and Punjab amid a spate of farm suicides that have underscored the challenges before the newborn state.
“His visit is meant to instil confidence among farmers that suicide is not a solution. It would also highlight the agony of the Telangana farmer under (chief minister) KCR’s administration, which even failed to deliver on its promise of farm loan waiver,” said state Congress leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka.
Nine districts of Telangana witnessed 840 suicides till the end of March since the state was carved out of Andhra Pradesh on June 2 last year, said activist B Kondala Reddy.
Gandhi will arrive in Hyderabad on Thursday and will go on a padyatra, or foot march, covering five villages in Adilabad district the next day, where he will meet the families of farmers who have killed themselves and talk to distressed agriculturists.
State Congress leaders said the visit will not only help them corner the chief minister on the matter of farm suicides but also galvanise the cadre to confront the government on other issues.
Since his return from a nearly eight-week-long sabbatical, the Amethi MP has led the Congress offensive against the Centre’s land acquisition and agricultural policies – tearing into the government in Parliament over farmers’ problems apart from meeting distraught peasants in several states.