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Sun or rain, teeming crowds await Rahul’s speech

Aligarh: Hoardings with Rahul Gandhi’s imposing portraits, farmers in droves – first braving a hot and humid weather and then the rains, enthusiastic supporters on treetops…that was the scene at a sprawling ground ahead of the Congress leader’s rally here Saturday.

The Nivas Ground in the heart of Aligarh was teeming with the young leader’s supporters – most said they are farmers – even as the Congress general secretary was yet to arrive.
The rally was the culmination of his five-day foot march in Uttar Pradesh.

One among the crowd, Raj Kishore, who said he was a farmer from Agra, said he had been part of Gandhi’s padyatra all these days because he believed “it is our time to rule”.
Did he mean Rahul Gandhi? “Yes, but I am also talking about ‘kisan rajya (farmers’ rule),” he said.

Farmers from different parts of the state were carried in private buses to the venue and organisers expected a “big response” to what they called the ‘kissan mahapanchayat’.

They came in small groups, shouting slogans in favour of the Congress leader and his mother and party chief Sonia Gandhi. Some enthusiastic supporters placed themselves on rooftops and treetops nearby to have a glimpse of their leader.

Tight security measures were in place in and around the venue. Every person entering the ground had to undergo a pat down from police.

On Thursday, when Gandhi was on his foot march, police arrested a man carrying a licensed revolver, a policeman guarding the Aligarh ground told IANS.

The enthusiasm was palpable.

When the skies opened up, Congress supporters waiting for the Gandhi scion started panicking and running for shelter even though the Nivas Ground was covered with a waterproof marquee.

But the organisers managed to keep most people in their seats, saying, “aandhi aaye ya toofan, sabha karenge seena taan (come rain or storm, we will hold the rally)”. They also said it was a good omen – for Rahul Gandhi as well as farmers – to have rains ahead of the rally! Some people even stood in the rain and danced.

The Gandhi scion has been on a foot march through Uttar Pradesh’s villages, starting from Greater Noida near the national capital Tuesday, against land acquisition by the state government in the name of development.

He has stopped at nearly 25 villages and spoken to farmers from about 60 villages on the issue.

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