By Archana Sharma
Jaipur, Feb 19 (IANS) It was a different ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’ at the Kotkhawada area of Chaksu town in Jaipur district on Friday where a huge crowd gathered to catch a glimpse of their ‘hero’ — Congress leader Sachin Pilot — cheering loudly to give a loud shout of approval to every word the former Deputy CM uttered. The same crowd also hooted when MLAs from Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s camp were seen joining Pilot on the dais.
However, as thousands of people from all caste and creed, and not all necessarily farmers, joined the Mahapanchayat, it gave a clear indication that a new farmer leader is born in Rajasthan who is none other than Pilot, leading from the front while standing shoulder to shoulder with the farmers.
While talking to IANS though, Pilot denied any such thing and said, “I’m strongly attached to the farmer community. In fact, my father and I have received full blessings from the farmer community across castes. Farmers are the backbone of our country’s economy. This agrarian community plays a strong role in our country’s development and hence the Congress is fully committed to their cause. As a Congress worker, I feel that it is my duty to remain committed to the farmers’ issue and hence I am here addressing this rally.”
Speaking further, he said, “We passed three resolutions in today’s rally. First, all the three laws farm should be withdrawn; second, farm purchase should be made on MSP; and thirdly, the hike in petrol and diesel prices should be rolled back. Everyone raised their hands and passed these three resolutions.”
“This movement goes beyond caste and religion. Everyone in the country is now saying that the government of India should reconsider its decision and withdraw the farm laws, shedding its stubborn nature. In fact, they should frame three new laws after consulting all the stakeholders,” Pilot said, adding that every Indian feels that the farm bills were passed in haste without any consultation.
Almost 200 farmers have lost their lives while trying to convince the government to repeal the farm laws, he added.
Meanwhile, Friday’s Mahapanchayat also reflected the strong confrontation brewing between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his former deputy Pilot, indicating that the ‘political war’ is still not over. In the Mahapanchayat, Pilot had 16 MLAs with him on the stage, which gave a clear message to the Congress high command about his grip and strength on the ground.
Similarly, Gehlot, PCC President Govind Singh Dotasara and several leaders of the Gehlot camp were invited to the event, but none arrived.
Congress MLA Ved Prakash Solanki was coordinating the invitations and he had shared them with all the party leaders, Pilot told IANS.
Pilot and Gehlot’s confrontation became all the more evident when two MLAs from Gehlot camp joined the Mahapanchayat on Friday.
While the pro-pilot MLAs included Vishvendra Singh, Hemaram Chaudhary, Murarilal Meena, Brijendra Singh Ola, Ramesh Meena, Ved Prakash Solanki, Harish Meena, G.R. Khatana, Indraj Gurjar, Rakesh Pareek, Amar Singh Jatav, Suresh Modi, Mukesh Bhakar and P.R. Meena, the presence of two other MLAs surprised many — Niwai MLA Prashant Bairava and Dantaramgarh MLA Virendra Singh, the son of former Congress state president Narayan Singh.
As soon as they arrived, the Pilot supporters started raising slogans against them as Bairava was initially in the Pilot camp, but joined the Gehlot fraction after a political crisis eurpted in the state in July last year.
Three other MLAs belonging to the Pilot camp — Deepender Singh Shekhawat, Ramnivas Gavadia and Bhanwarlal Sharma — could not make it to the Mahapanchayat.
When Vishvendra Singh, an MLA from the Pilot camp, indirectly commented on Gehlot and said “first we got 99 seats, then 101”, slogans were raised in support of Pilot. Looking at the response, Singh said, “You are smarter than me.”
Meanwhile, Pilot said, “Congress stands firmly with the demands of the farmers. The most remarkable thing is that the ongoing protest is being staged in a Gandhian way. The government has barricaded the roads, put nails on them besides trying to intimidate the farmer community. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has rallied 22 opposition parties against the farm laws. Priyanka Gandhi is also holding panchayats all over Uttar Pradesh while Rahul Gandhi has visited Rajasthan to support the farmers’ movement. So we stand together with the farmers at this hour.”
By Archana Sharma