Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, dressed in a traditional safa, drove a tractor and addressed farmer rallies as he continued his farmer outreach in Rajasthan on Saturday.
Gandhi also gave a glimpse of the soft Hindutva that the Congress party is adopting to counter the BJP.
Gandhi started his day with a visit to the Tejaji temple, dedicated to the folk deity, in Sursura village of Ajmer district. Here he sported a red and green pagdi (traditional headgear) and a saffron angvastra (scarf), giving a message to his detractors who accuse the Congress of appeasement.
Tejaji is a folk deity who is revered by the Jat community and the farming community in general in Rajasthan and neighbouring states. By offering prayers at the temple, Gandhi has given a message to the Jats and farmer community.
Gandhi then addressed meetings at Makrana and Rupangarh where the stage was in the shape of a tractor trolley. Gandhi reached the meeting venue in Rupangarh driving a tractor, with chief minister Ashok Gehlot and state Congress president Govind Singh Dotasara sitting beside him.
Rajasthan incharge Ajay Maken and former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot were also present in the meetings.
Though the Congress tried to give a message of unity by taking Gehlot and Pilot along, the underlying rift was evident. Gehlot and Pilot did not talk to each other over the two days. Pilot who was state Congress chief used to be among the frontliners, sitting next to Gandhi during his visits, found himself pushed to the backbenches this time.
Gandhi’s speeches were a rerun of what he said in parliament and in his farmer meetings on Friday. He said agriculture is the biggest business in India, amounting to Rs40 lakh crore. Around 40 percent of the population is dependent on agriculture but Modi wants to hand over the agriculture sector to his two friends. The Congress has alleged that the three farm laws are anti-farmer and will benefit a few large corporates.
After Rupangarh, Gandhi addressed a meeting in Makrana in Nagaur district. From there he went to Kishangarh from where he left for Delhi by air in the evening.