Even as Congress General Secretary and the party's in-charge of Uttar Pradesh Digvijay Singh on Tuesday sought to describe Rahul Gandhi's 'kisan sandesh yatra', which he launched from Bhatta Parsaul early on Tuesday morning as "completely apolitical", both the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party and the Bhartiya Janata Party sought to term it as a "political gimmick."
"Be it the 'kisan sandesh yatra' or the proposed 'kisan maha-panchayat' on July 9 in Aligarh, Rahul Gandhi had no intention to play any politics in the name of farmers for whose cause he is fully committed", claimed Digvijay Singh at a press conference in Lucknow.
"Whatever Rahul had undertaken was in line with the age-old traditions and ethos of the Congress party, whose founders including Mahatma Gandhi always thought about the most underprivileged masses", he pointed out.
Exuding confidence that the proposed farmers meet in Aligarh on July 9 would draw farmers from across the state, he sought to add, "Rahul Gandhi's intention was to get a first hand account of the grievances and problems faced by farmers, which he was very keen to address."
Meanwhile, even as the Congress celebrity was marching down from village to village, using Bhatta Parsaul as his launch pad, top BSP and BJP leaders dismissed his forays into the rural expanse of Greater Noida, Bulandshahr and Aligarh as a "political gimmick".
A press release issued on behalf of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati challenged Rahul to cite one example of a Congress-ruled state where the landacquisition policy was more farmer-friendly than Uttar Pradesh. The press release stated that if Rahul was truly a well-wisher of farmers, he should adopt the policy framed by the UP government.
Interestingly, both BSP and BJP flayed Rahul Gandhi for not caring to push the long pending amendments in the Land Acquisition Act, that was largely in the hands of the Congress- led Union government.
It was a strange coincidence that the BSP press release and the BJP press statement issued on behalf of former party president Rajnath Singh were issued almost simultaneously. While terming Rahul's 'kisan yatra' as a "political stunt" and "drama", both parties advised the Gandhi scion to "use his influence on the central government to expedite the amendments in the land acquisition laws that have been long-pending".
Both parties said that Rahul was playing the farmers' card without actually caring to address the core issue that actually led to exploitation of farmers. "it was the duty of the UPA government to bring the long pending Land Acquisition Amendment bill to Parliament," they said.
Rajnath Singh claimed that Congress has been sitting on the bill for a long time. BJP has already declared that it would support the passage of the bill in both houses of Parliament.
The BSP press release has warned that if the Congress fails to introduce the amendment bill in parliament during the forthcoming monsoon session of parliament, their party would disrupt proceedings of the parliament.