New Delhi(ANI): Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will be meeting a farmers' delegation on Saturday to hear their views on the changes in the Land Acquisition Bill by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre.
The meeting, which is scheduled to take place at 11 a.m., will be held a day ahead of the mega 'Kisaan Mazdoor rally' at the Ramlila Maidan here. The Congress vice-president arrived in New Delhi on Thursday after a two-month long break from the political scene. His whereabouts were a matter of much speculation and it is still not known where he spent his holidays.
The Congress had, however, defended his absence and said that the 44-year-old leader wanted time off for introspection after a series of electoral drubbings.
Rahul Gandhi is angry. What is getting his goat is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches abroad.
The Congress vice-president is unhappy with Modi’s habit of criticising former Congress governments on foreign soil.
So, the Gandhi scion, fresh and rejuvenated from a 56-day sabbatical in an unknown destination, has hit upon an idea.
Next time onwards, a Congress representative will go to every country Modi visits to run a parallel show to counter his “lies”. Gandhi has already so instructed his party leaders.
Congress spokesman Anand Sharma, who made the announcement, said that, so far, all political parties had maintained the decorum of speaking in one voice when abroad, and never carried domestic politics to foreign countries.
In 2003, then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee refused to answer a question on Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origins while he in New York.
The Congress also condemned Modi for his “lie” that no Indian prime minister had visited Canada in the last 42 years. Truth is Dr Manmohan Singh had gone there in 2010, not only to attend the G-20 Summit but also for bilateral talks, he pointed out.
Sharma also released a copy of the 2010 joint statement, which said in the opening paragraph: Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh visited Canada from June 26 to June 28 at the invitation of the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper.
Congress insiders, however, said they might wait and watch the next foreign tour of Modi, before applying this threat.
So, will Rahul’s new strategy work?
“We hope the prime minister takes note of this threat and avoid making remarks against previous governments while in foreign countries,”a senior leader said.
He agreed that such a move will cause a huge embarrassment to India in the global community and that all party leaders are in rage “but we will contain our anger within the country instead of washing dirty linen on foreign soil.”
Meanwhile, ahead of the Kisan rally at Ramlila Maidan here on Sunday, Rahul has invited the farmer leaders of various states at his 12 Tughlak Lane residence on Saturday morning . On Friday, he took stock of his office and party’s war room. His Saturday meeting with farmers has been thrown open to the media, though only for a photo session when he speaks to the farmer leaders.
The party sources said Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh and former rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, who spearheaded the enactment of the land acquisition law in 2013, will be assisting Rahul in his talks with the farmer leaders coming from the states like Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh.
The delegation of the farmer leaders will include those from Bhatta Parsaul village of Uttar Pradesh, near Delhi, from where Rahul had launched a ‘padyatra’ in 2011 against forcible land acquisition of farmers for the Delhi-Agra expressway. This protest had culminated in the passage of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. The rally is being seen as a sort of a comeback announcement of Rahul and a show of strength by the party trying to secure the Act it had enacted to replace a British-era draconian law against the ‘machinations’ of the government.