Keeping the heat on BJP-led Union government, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi early on Friday began his 10 km-long padyatra (foot march) in Andhra Pradesh. He kick-started his padyatra from a village in Anantapur district to highlight the issues faced by the farmers, women Self-Help Groups and the students in the state.
Criticising Modi government on its agricultural policies and, especially on the issue of contentious land bill, he said, “The Congress party took a stand in the Parliament and we decided that we won’t let the PM take away the land of farmers of this country”.
Starting his padyatra early in the day from Obuladevara Cheruvu village, the Congress vice-president walked a three kilometre stretch before stopping at Mamilakuntapalli village. He held an interactive session with the farmers, weavers and students at his first stop of the 10 kilometres long padyatra.
“The Congress party and I are not scared of anything. I am here to tell you that the Congress Party is going to fight for special status for AP,” Rahul Gandhi said while interacting with the farmers during his foot march.
Incidentally, he kicked off his padyatra from the village where Indira Gandhi had addressed a meeting in 1979.
Rahul would also meet the family of farmer Harinath Reddy, who allegedly committed suicide. In the last few months, several farmers in Andhra Pradesh have committed suicide due to debt and crop failure. The young leader has on earlier occasion targeted the state governments for their failure to help farmers reeling with acute agrarian crisis.
“I can understand the intentions of the PM, but I don’t understand the intentions of the CM of this state and the other party,” he said taking on CM Chandrababu Naidu and the ruling Telagu Desam Party (TDP).
Later in the afternoon, he will undertake his second stretch of padyatra from Mamilakuntapalli to Daburavaripalli. This would be longest stretch where he will cover 5 kilometres on foot. He will then have an interaction with women Self Help Groups.
Rahul Gandhi’s last leg of the 10-kilometre long padyatra will be between Daburavaripalli to Kondakamarla. The two kilometres long padyatra will be followed by an interaction with MGNREGS workers and family members of migrant labourers. The Congress vice president will also be holding a meeting with the senior party leaders of APCC in Puttaparthy.
This is Rahul Gandhi’s first ever visit to Andhra Pradesh post the bifurcation of the state into Telangana and AP last year just before the general elections. Once its citadel, the Congress party was wiped out in 2014 assembly polls. Gandhi’s visit is therefore, also seen as an effort to infuse life into a moribund state unit of the Congress party, which doesn’t have even a single MLA in the state assembly.
(With inputs from the PTI)