Congress party prepares a land for its comeback

Rajat Kain

File Photo ( PTI )

File Photo ( PTI )

Tipped to be their first big political attack on the ruling BJP led NDA government, Congress is preparing for a massive show at Ramlila maidan in the heart of the capital on Sunday. ‘Kisan-Khet Mazdoor rally’ as it has been called, is anticipated to be a platform to launch a no-hold barred attack on the NDA government over the issue of bringing in an Ordinance to change Land Acquisition Act.

With posters and banners of the rally across the city already up and even FM-radio advertisements making a strong pitch, the Congress is looking at the event an opportunity to reverse their slide.

However, the most important talking point of Kisan-Khet Mazdoor rally is Congress party’s Vice President Rahul Gandhi returning from his long leave of absence. The party workers and leaders are upbeat about their ‘leader’ coming back and leading from the front.

“There is nothing wrong with Rahul going on a sabbatical, Rahul is back now and he will be aggressive. The Land Bill protest is very close to Rahul’s heart.” Senior leader Anand Sharma said.

Rahul Gandhi is seen as a man behind the legislation on land acquisition in 2013, which is often described as remarkable, pro-poor and pro-farmer by the Congress party. He had launched an agitation in 2011 from Bhatta Parsaul in Uttar Pradesh against forcible land acquisition of farmers. That agitation had eventually culminated into enactment of Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 by the Congress-led UPA government.

However, the NDA government led by Narendra Modi brought an ordinance in December 2014 to change the provisions of land acquisition which will impact various pro-farmer provisions of the original act. The issue of ordinance on land bill, therefore, has been pretty emotive for the farmers and the opposition parties too have been opposing it, even inside the Parliament.

Congress party has already made it more than clear that Ordinance on the Land Bill is unacceptable to them. They have termed the ordinance anti-farmers. During the first leg of the budget session last month, party chief Sonia Gandhi even led a march of collective opposition parties to Rashtrapati Bhawan opposing the land ordinance.

“Beginning with farmer’s rally at the Ram Lila grounds, Congress will carry this fight vigorously and with utmost vigour from Parliament to small towns and villages in the country”, party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.

Party president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, former Rural Development minister Jairam Ramesh, Digvijay Singh and other senior leaders are also expected to meet farmers delegations from several regions in Sunday rally. Rahul Gandhi is expected to meet delegations of farmer leaders a day before rally on Saturday.
The PCC units of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan are working hard to get as many workers and the stakeholders at the rally. Congress party claims that the assembly may touch even 1 lakh.

Battered with the series of losses, Congress party workers and leaders are seeing the rally as a podium to rejuvenate their fortunes. The downward slide of the party began in December 2013 with the losses in the assembly polls of the Delhi, Rajasthan, MP and Chhatisgarh followed by a rout in General Election where Congress party got their lowest tally so far of 44 seats. Rahul Gandhi had led the party in Lok Sabha elections. The slide continued with losses in Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi where it drew a blank.