Bhatta Parsaul, an area which came to the limelight after the anti-land acquisition movement in 2011 and led to Rahul Gandhi successfully taking up farmers cause at the national level, doesn’t have a credible Congress challenge anymore.
After more than a decade, residents in these twin Uttar Pradesh villages – under Jewar Assembly constituency — feel they have been let down by the Congress and its leader Rahul Gandhi. Most of them feel that the Gandhi scion has abandoned them to their fate and has refused to take up the farmers’ cause.
Omvati, who lost her husband Rajpal Tewatia in the anti-land acquisition movement, feels “cheated” by the Congress leader and those surrounding him. She claims that she did not receive any help promised at the time of the agitation.
“Hume na mile Rahul Gandhi ke 2 rupaiyye bhi. Aaya to bechara, par jinko mili ho mili, hamara na kiya kisi ne kuch bhi. (We did not receive even Rs 2 help from Rahul Gandhi. He did come to us and people may have got help, but we got nothing),” Omvati tells News18.com.
Sitting BJP MLA Dhirendra Singh says Rahul Gandhi may have emerged as the voice of farmers at one point, but lost his way and could not continue to connect with the community.
“Rahul Gandhi ko ek pehchan di Bhatta Parsaul ne (Bhatta Parsaul gave Rahul Gandhi an identity) … despite his ignorance about agriculture. But his visit to the twin villages got him support from farmers. He failed to maintain that support,” says Singh, adding that it was this movement that led to the then UPA government bringing in the Land Acquisition Act of 2013.
“Ek samay aisa tha ki kisan Rahul Gandhi par vishwas karne lage the. Par unke aas pass ki team aur woh vishwas bana kar nahi rakh paye. (There was a time when farmers had started believing in Rahul Gandhi but his team failed to keep that trust),” Singh adds.
Dhirendra Singh’s own course has taken a 180-degree turn since the agitation. Once a committed Congress cadre, he had driven Rahul Gandhi on the back of his motorbike to the agitation site in 2011. He lost the 2012 Assembly election on a Congress ticket by a narrow margin and jumped over to the BJP before the 2017 polls.
Singh now feels only Prime Minister Narendra Modi has the vision and the means to ensure prosperity of the farming community.
“Post 2014, PM Modi implemented Swaminathan report and the (farmers’) support was diverted to Modi ji,” says Singh, who will contest again from Jewar.
Some voters here, however, are disillusioned with all parties, particularly those who have spent years in prison because of the agitation and have not taken compensation for the land.
One of them, Gaje Singh, says he will vote for None of the Above (NOTA) this time. “I have spent two years in prison. I am retired from Army and all we were trying to do is save our land. I don’t trust anyone,” he says.