Rahul Gandhi's tractor rally to campaign against the centre's farm laws was stopped briefly outside Haryana this afternoon by dozens of policemen. The Congress leader, who was moving from party-ruled Punjab towards Haryana for his three-day rally, had said he would not budge "even if he had to wait for 5,000 hours". It turned out to be less than an hour before the Haryana government allowed in a small contingent.
"They have stopped us at the Haryana border. I will stay here until they open it. If it takes two hours then two hours. If it takes six hours then six, 10 hours then 10, 24 hours then 24, 100 hours, 200 hours, 500 hours...As many hours as it takes, I will not move," Rahul Gandhi told NDTV, seated in a tractor.
"When they open the border, I will peacefully proceed. Until then I will peacefully wait here," said the Congress leader, just out of a similar confrontation with the Uttar Pradesh government over his journey to Hathras to meet the family of a woman who died after being assaulted by four men.
He also tweeted: "They have stopped us on a bridge on the Haryana border. I'm not moving and am happy to wait here. 1 hours, 5 hours, 24 hours, 100 hours, 1000 hours or 5000 hours."
They have stopped us on a bridge on the Haryana border. I'm not moving and am happy to wait here.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 6, 2020
1 hour, 5 hours, 24 hours, 100 hours, 1000 hours or 5000 hours. pic.twitter.com/b9IjBSe7Bg
Policemen were seen keeping up barricades as Congress workers holding flags and chanting slogans tried to push through.
Haryana's BJP government soon told the group that only 100 people could enter. Three tractors, including Rahul Gandhi's, were allowed to go through. Top Congress leaders from Punjab, travelling with Rahul Gandhi until that point, turned back.
Rahul Gandhi launched the three-day tractor rally on Sunday to protest against the new laws that the opposition says will leave the farmers at the mercy of corporates and deprive them of a fair deal for their produce.
"The 'Kheti Bachao Yatra' is against the kaala kanoon (dark laws) that will destroy the existing structure of agriculture in the country and affect Punjab and Haryana the most," Mr Gandhi told the media in Punjab a few hours ago.
He is to address two rallies in Haryana.
Yesterday, images of Mr Gandhi sitting in a tractor on what appeared to be cushioned seats provoked a dig from Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.
"The 'protest' launched by the Congress is a political protest by those whose vested interests are hurt by the farm bills. Cushioned sofas on tractors is not a protest... it is 'protest tourism' to misguide our farmers, who are educated and intelligent enough to see through this facade," Mr Puri tweeted.
Today, Mr Gandhi was seen driving the tractor for a stretch, flanked by other Congress leaders on the cushioned seats.