Congress factionalism in Haryana evident at kisan rally (Sidelights)

New Delhi, Sep 20 (IANS) Though the Congress party sought to put up a show of strength at the ‘Kisan Samman Rally’ in the national capital on Sunday, the factionalism in the Haryana Congress came out in the open.

After Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar began his speech, there was waving of hands and some booing by partymen wearing pink turbans, who were seen as supporters of former state chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

Tanwar, who was among the early speakers, did not make a long speech.

Hooda, who a party functionary conceded had the strength to muster the crowd for the party’s rallies, spoke in the presence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi and proposed a vote of thanks.

The functionary said Hooda’s supporters were keen to show his reach at the grassroots.

* Rahul Gandhi’s role in focus

The rally in the national capital came five months after the Congress had held a rally on the land ordinance in April.

While the April rally marked Rahul Gandhi’s arrival back from a long sabbatical, Sunday’s rally was meant to highlight his role in forcing the Modi government to retrace its steps on the land bill. He had led from the front on the party’s protest on the land bill.

Speakers took turns to highlight Rahul Gandhi’s role in taking the lead on the issue.

The posters put up on the occasion also sought to emphasise the party’s association with the farmers, with some of the posters reading: “Voice of farmers has not been suppressed ever, will not be suppressed” and “Our land, our identity”.

* Call for RSS-free India

Youth Congress chief Amarinder Singh Raja Brar, while giving a call for “RSS-free” India, compared the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s rule under Prime Minister Narendra Modi with that of Germany’s Nazi leader Adolf Hilter.

He said RSS, the ideological fountainhead of BJP, was “targetting” the Nehru-Gandhi family in an effort to weaken the Congress.

Referring to the government’s decision to withdraw stamps on former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, Brar said his organisation would agitate so fiercely that it would force Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to say that the discontinuation of stamps was a mistake.

Brar, who spoke ahead of the arrival of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi at Ram Lila Maidan, the rally-venue, also talked about the party’s weakness.

“The weakness with us is that we fight among ourselves, indulge in factionalism. Let us get united. Let us not make a show before people of the country. If we keep fighting among ourselves, we cannot make a RSS-free India,” Raja said.

* Rahul Gandhi recites a joke

Congress vice-president packed his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over “suit-boot ki sarkar” with a “joke” about arrogance of man in “suit-boot”.

He said the man sought help from a boat driver to cross a river. In the boat, the man asked many questions about the boatman’s education, making him feel small. But when the boat swayed a little in mid-stream, the boatman asked the educated man whether he knew swimming. The man in the suit-boot did not know swimming and it was now boatman’s turn to take a dig back.

Rahul Gandhi said people in suit-boot had knowledge, as did others.

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