Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s rally here on Wednesday was disrupted by panches and sarpanches, who shouted slogans and moved out of the venue, forcing him to curtail the event.
Mr. Gandhi, who is here on a two-day visit, was addressing a gathering of over 5,000 panchayat members at the Maulana Azad Stadium. Signs of discomfiture became evident when the Congress leader’s scheduled interaction with six select representatives of panchayat members was not held.
Mr. Gandhi admitted that the National Conference-led coalition government, which has the Congress as an ally, had failed to empower the 33,000-plus panchayat members in the past two years. But the Congress, Mr. Gandhi assured the gathering, would pressure the government to ensure that all provisions of the 73rd amendment were incorporated in the State law. “This is our endeavour — a uniform system should be there all over the country.”
Even as he was speaking, one person from the audience — later identified as Parikshit Singh, sarpanch of Ram Nagar — stood up and began shouting that the coalition leaders had been making “hollow promises” since 2011 on empowerment of panchayat members. “How long have we got to listen to such false promises? What have you people done in the last three years?” he asked.
As Mr. Gandhi tried to pacify the sarpanch, many from the audience started shouting slogans. Soon there was chaos all around as many began to walk out of the venue.
Mr. Gandhi stopped his speech midway and moved out, asking Ms. Soni to announce that an annual grant of Rs. 10 lakh would be given to each panchayat “very soon.”