After 4-day walk, Rahul talks: no nautanki... neta must meet people

One farmer addressed him as "the only farmer leader after Motilal and Jawaharlal". Another exhorted the crowd to "vote for Rahul so that he can get the land law passed in Parliament". Yet another claimed that "Indira, Rajiv aur Rahul ki qurbani vyarth nahi jayegi".

At the Kisan Mahapanchayat here today, which marked the culmination of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's four-day padyatra, the focus was less on land acquisition — the issue for which the yatra was undertaken — and more on the young leader — "kisanon ke dilon ki dhadkan".

"I met many villagers in the last four days. Log keh rahe hain yeh nautanki hai. Agar woh aisa maante hain to maante rahen. I believe that a politician needs to be with people," said Rahul, who reached the venue after 2 pm, and left at around 3.45 pm. "I learnt a lot from you. You gave me food and a place to stay in your homes. I am extremely thankful to you," he said, ending his nearly 20-minute address.

Unlike his yatra, in which only young MPs Deepender Singh Hooda and Meenakshi Natarajan accompanied Rahul on some stretches, the Mahapanchayat was attended by union ministers from UP Salman Khursheed, Sriprakash Jaiswal and Beniprasad Verma, UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi, state party in-charge Digvijaya Singh and SC Commission chairperson P L Punia.

While his yatra saw only a few hundreds in attendance, mostly curious villagers and onlookers, the gathering at Numaish Maidan in Aligarh today was attended by about 50,000 farmers — not all Congress supporters — from across the state.

There were even farmers from Bulandshahr, Deoria, Hathras, Kanshi Ram Nagar, who admitted that they had never faced any land acquisition problems and had come at the insistence of the local youth. Raghvendra Singh Rakesh of Deoria, Eastern UP, said about 5,000 from his region were attending the gathering.

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