Detractors may dismiss him as a political novice, but Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s political manoeuvres have captured attention across the board.
His latest gambit — uniting and mobilising farmers over the land acquisition issue — might pay dividends. This, say political experts, might actually cut through the caste equations in Uttar Pradesh.
“Land acquisition is of great significance and it will override all other issues and caste considerations during polls,” said Prof Mohd Muzammil, economics department, Lucknow University.
But the party raising the issue would gain only if they are sincere. “Rahul has an opportunity to display his commitment through the land acquisition bill and its contents,” he said.
“No other issue will be as important for farmers in the coming polls,” said Choudhary Ajit Singh, a farmer leader close to the Congress.
Devi Dutt, another farmer leader from Aligarh’s Tappal, said: “Acquisition of land is going to be a major issue in elections. Rahul is fighting for the farmers and it will help the party.”
“The Congress and farmers are going to benefit from today’s padyatra,” said Chandra Pal, a senior farmer leader who met Gandhi at Nangla Bhatauna village in Greater Noida on Tuesday. Gandhi will be collecting suggestions on the land acquisition issue from every village. “We hope they will be incorporated in the land acquisition bill,” he said.
Singh, who reached Bhatta to meet Gandhi, said: “He told me he would sift all suggestions to incorporate them in the bill.”
According to Chandra Pal, caste sentiments are already on the wane. Asked if farmers from eastern UP are in touch with their counterparts in the west, the nerve centre of the farmers’ movement, he said: “They will know from media. And the bill is going to benefit all”.
Would Gandhi be able to turn Bhatta-Parsaul into another Nandigram, which proved the proverbial last nail in the Left Front government’s coffin in West Bengal?
“Bhatta-Parsaul can turn into another Nandigram if the Congress keeps the pressure on. It has the potential to unite farmers across caste lines,” said Badri Narayan, professor, GP Pant Social Science Institute and the head of its Dalit Resource Centre in Allahabad.