A large number of farmers scuffled with each other on Tuesday to flee with Khatiyas (wooden cots) from the venue soon after Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi ended his ‘Khat Sabha’ at Deoria in Uttar Pradesh.
There was unprecedented ruckus and commotion at the ground in Deoria, where the rally was held, after people started fighting over the cots to take it home. However, there was no official announcement by the Congress about ‘free’ distribution of it to the public.
Gandhi’s next stopover is Kushinagar, where another ‘khat sabha’ is scheduled.
“#ReplaceMovieNamesWithKhats” was trending on Twitter, with people posting photos of villagers carrying cots from the gathering soon after Gandhi concluded his speech. Visuals also showing an unruly crowd at the venue.
It began with a raid of eatables and bottled water stored in a tent. A few people then picked up some cots and the crowds followed. Soon, only a few cots made of iron were left on the vast ground – they were too heavy to lift.
The khat sabha – an innovative take on village meetings where elders deliberate on important matters seated on cots fashioned out of rope and wood – marked the beginning of Mr. Gandhi’s farmer-focused month-long yatra or tour of UP, where crucial elections will be held early next year.
Addressing a crowd at Rudrapur in Deoria district, Gandhi said the Prime Minister wanted to waive off loans of the rich but wasn’t ready to do that in the case of farmers.
“Modiji must waive off loans taken by farmers in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere in the country,” he said to applause.
“We have embarked on this Yatra to know the problems of the farmers and to help Modiji understand the situation too.”
The Congress leader also urged the government slash the electricity tariff by 50 percent and hike the minimum support price given to farmers’ produce.
Rahul Gandhi began his 2,500-km journey from Deoria in eastern UP and aims to cover 223 of Uttar Pradesh’s 403 assembly constituencies. The massive public outreach will see Mr. Gandhi stopping in villages for close interactions with farmers as he collects a charter of farmers’ demands. He will also hold road shows.