"Modiji Chahte Hain...": Rahul Gandhi At Rajasthan Tractor Rally

At Hanumangarh yesterday, Rahul Gandhi said the new laws - passed in September last year amid chaos in parliament - will affect up to 40 per cent of India's population

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi addressed a tractor rally in Rajasthan on Saturday

Jaipur:

With an eye on optics, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Saturday draped a red-and-green pagri (turban) around his head and drove a tractor - with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Rajasthan Congress chief Govind Singh Dotasara sitting on either side - as he addressed farmers in Ajmer district.

"Sabse bada business krishi ka business hain... 40 lakh crore ka business hai aur 40 per cent population ispe nirbhat hai (The biggest business in India is agriculture... it is a Rs 40 lakh crore business and 40 per cent of the population depends on this business)," Mr Gandhi began.

"Modiji chahte hai ye doh mitron ke hawale ho (Modiji wants to surrender this to his two friends)," he said, referring to criticism of the centre's agriculture laws - that it will benefit a few large corporate firms at the expense of lakhs of small and marginal farmers.

The rally was the second part of his outreach to Rajasthan farmers protesting the centre's new agriculture laws; on Friday Mr Gandhi was in Hanumangarh and Ganganagar, where he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi "would not stand before China but threatens farmers".

The venues for today's rallies - Kishangarh and Roopangarh - were chosen for a number of reasons, including their central location, which allows farmers from neighbouring districts to converge and, potentially, allowing the political ripples of the rally to be felt across the state.

Giving the farmers' protest a political colour also suits the Congress in Rajasthan at this moment.

Last week former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, whose failed attempt at a breakaway left the Congress' government in the state on the brink of collapse, stepped into the farmers' movement.

Now, with Mr Gandhi in the state, a photo-op to underline unity in the state unit - in which rival camps remain in tense condition - was too good to miss.

With Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot on show on one platform, the Congress in Rajasthan doesn't want to be seen as pulling in different directions.