Nearly two months after his visit to the epicentre of farmers' protests at Bhatta Parsaul that led to his midnight arrest, Congress party general secretary Rahul Gandhi made his way to the twin villages again early on Tuesday morning, throwing a fresh challenge to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati.
The Congress general secretary made Bhatta Parsaul, which saw widespread protests over land acquisition two months back, the first stop of his 'Kisan Sandesh Yatra' when he came calling in a car at 6 am drumming up support for the planned kisan mahapanchayat in Aligarh on Saturday.
The Mayawati government refused Rahul permission to hold a kisan mahapanchayat in Bhatta Parsaul in the outskirts of Delhi, as the two sides geared up for another round of confrontation ahead of the crucial assembly elections in UP next year.
Sitting on a rope cot, Rahul looked very much at home, holding a small, beaming child in school uniform on his lap as he talked to villagers. Rahul was accompanied by security personnel.
"Whatever happened in Bhatta Parsaul, other people were not aware of it. I wanted to understand this land acquisition happening, from here to Agra. This yatra I have started from Bhatta, from here I will to go to villages and I will try to understand this acquisition, the new law and the peoples' opinion on this law. How, where and for whom are the laws getting implemented I want to understand.
"That is why I have come here and will go to other villages to understand the same," he said.
Rahul was arrested by the Mayawati government in Bhatta Parsaul on the night of May 11 and released after a few hours when he had gone there to oppose the police action against farmers during their protests against land acquisition. Four persons were killed during the police action.
Rahul told the villagers that the Congress party is dedicated to take up their cause and was therefore holding the mahapanchayat.
Congress leaders accompanying Rahul told Bhatta Parsaul farmers that the kisan mahapanchayat was earlier scheduled to be held at Bhatta Parsaul but as the administration did not give permission the venue was shifted to Aligarh. Some areas of Aligarh saw massive agitation against land acquisition in August last year.
Rahul also visited the adjoining Mirzapur, Rosa and Rustampur villages where he sat under roadside trees and listened to farmers' grievances.
He will next proceed to Rabupura and then to Aligarh.