Former Congress party president Rahul Gandhi will arrive in Rajasthan on Friday on a two-day visit during which he will address several farmers' meetings to support the farmers’ agitation against the central farm laws.
During his speech in parliament on Thursday, Gandhi launched a strong attack on prime minister Narendra Modi and his government with regard to the farm laws.
Congress is hoping Gandhi will continue his aggressive form against the central government and reach out to farmers.
Analysts also see the political import of Gandhi’s visit with the rift in the Congress between chief minister Ashok Gehlot and former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot refusing to die down despite attempts by the party high command to broker peace.
Both Gehlot and Pilot will be by Gandhi’s side during his visit. While Pilot is already in Suratgarh, Gehlot will reach there early morning on Friday. Other Congress leaders including state in-charge Ajay Maken, co-in charge Tarun Kumar, Harun Yusuf, state Congress president Govind Singh Dotasara and several ministers are already in Suratgarh to welcome Gandhi.
During his two-day visit, Gandhi will hold farmers’ meetings at five places and also participate in a tractor rally. He will visit the temple of Tejaji Maharaj who is revered by the Jat community.
Gandhi’s meetings have been organised in areas of north Rajasthan bordering Punjab where the impact of the farmers’ agitation is the strongest.
The Sriganganagr, Hanumangarh and Nagaur and Ajmer districts are largely agrarian. Farmers mostly from the Jat community dominate the region. The Congress is trying to strengthen its base among the farmers as well as the Jats through its farmer rallies.
Gandhi will arrive in Suratgarh in Hanumangarh district at 10 am and will reach Pilibanga at 11 am where he will address a farmers’ rally. He will then reach Padampur in Sriganganagar and address another rally there.
On February 13, he will address a large rally in Rupangarh in Ajmer district which is the former constituency of Pilot who has been overseeing preparations for Gandhi’s visit. He will also participate in a tractor rally here. Gandhi will then address meetings in Makrana and Parbatsar in Nagaur district.
The Jats constitute about 10 per cent of the state’s total population and are politically influential. The community has traditionally voted for the Congress party though, in the last election, they drifted towards the BJP.
Meanwhile, the BJP has questioned the timing of Gandhi’s visit which coincides with the budget session of the state assembly which got underway on February 10.
Owing to Gandhi’s visit, several ministers and MLAs will remain absent from the House. Ministers BD Kalla, Raghu Sharma, Harish Choudhary and Lalchand Kataria and deputy chief whip Mahendra Choudhary and MLAs from the areas where the farmers' meetings will take place will not attend the assembly for two days.
Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria and deputy leader of opposition Rajendra Rathore said several ministers and legislators are missing from the house while important proceedings are taking place and the opposition is seeking answers from the ministers on several issues of public importance.