After the Khat fiasco in Uttar Pradesh that left the Congress red-faced on Tuesday, the national party has decided to beef-up security at party vice-president Rahul Gandhi's upcoming rallies to avoid such incidents in the future.
According to a report in the Hindustan Times, Gandhi has decided to continue with the Khat Sabhas despite the setback.
On 6 September, Rahul had embarked on a 2500km-long epic Kisan Mahayatra from Deoria in eastern Uttar Pradesh and held the first 'Khat Sabha' (cot meeting) where he interacted with the locals.
Moments after he left having made a raft of promises like farm loan waiver, reduction of power tariff and higher minimum support price for agriculture produce, the venue plunged into utter chaos and men, women and children scampered in, lifted the cots and hurried towards their homes.
There were minor altercations as policemen were seen walking leisurely, stopping none from carrying away the cots.
When asked about it, a villager quipped, "Kya hai ki Rahulji ne hi diya hai (It is given by Rahulji)", even as he gingerly balanced the rally takeaway on his shoulder.
Congress leaders, travelling with the party scion, were quick to deflect criticism over the matter, saying attacking the party on the issue would boomerang on the opposition as these khats still hold importance in the countryside. The party has arranged 10,000 khats for the entire campaign.
"Whoever tries to belittle the issue will do injustice to the poor villagers. Certain people in this country make away with thousands of crores of rupees and when a few villagers take home a thing as innocuous as a cot, all hell breaks loose. This shows the mentality of the BJP," Congress national spokesman Meem Afzal said.
With inputs from PTI