A vital stop in that yatra today was Bhatta and Parsaul, the twin villages in Greater Noida that were in the eye of bitter protests against Mayawati's land acquisition recently and saw much drama culminating in Rahul Gandhi's midnight arrest last month. (Read & Watch: Rahul Gandhi arrested, released on bail in midnight drama)
Ahead of the Assembly elections next year, Rahul Gandhi has been trying to drum up anti-Mayawati sentiments against the BSP government's land acquisition policy, an issue that has seen many protests in the last year.
Rahul began his road journey early and is stopping at several villages like Rustampur and Bhaipur, where he has heard out the grievances of villagers. At Bhatta Parsaul, Rahul looked very much at home, holding a small, beaming child in school uniform on his lap as he talked to villagers.
The Congress general secretary is moving in a motorcade, which he often stops to walk to nearby villages.
On Saturday, Rahul will attend a Mahapanchayat in Aligarh, areas of which too saw massive agitation against land acquisition in August last year.
In May this year, four people were killed during a weekend when farmers and the police opened fire in Bhatta and Parsaul. Farmers were upset over their land being acquired for public projects and then being sold to real estate companies after a considerable mark-up by the government. The shape of the protest shifted when Rahul Gandhi spent the day with farmers and was arrested by the state government before being led back across the border to Delhi.
While leaving Rustampur today, Rahul Gandhi said, "The outside world was not aware of what happened here. I thought that I should understand this properly. Whatever is happening from here till Agra, I want to understand. Have started this yatra from Bhatta and will try to understand by visiting villages where land is being acquired. The new policy which has been made, whether it should be applicable on you or not, is my concern."
That new land policy is what Mayawati, fuming at Rahul's success at grabbing headlines and goodwill, had announced recently in a bid to counter the Congress leader's grassroot efforts. Her eye too firmly fixed on the 2012 UP elections. (Read: Mayawati counters Rahul Gandhi with new land policy)
BJP accuses Rahul Gandhi of 'two standards' of compassion
Accusing Congress leader Rahul Gandhi of following "two standards" of compassion, BJP today sought to know why he did not express similar sentiments after the police crackdown in the Capital on supporters of Baba Ramdev.
The party also termed it as an "irony" that while the ruling party attacks the Uttar Pradesh government, it seeks BSP's help in maintaining numerical superiority in Parliament.
"We want to understand why his compassion is limited to happenings in Uttar Pradesh. Why can't he display similar compassion in other places, especially Delhi...how can there be two standards of compassion. We want Congress to clarify," BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters.
Mr Rudy was referring to Gandhi's second visit to villages in Greater Noida which had witnessed violence to protest land takeover for the proposed Yamuna Expressway.
(With PTI Inputs)