SAM Staff,
Congress president Rahul Gandhi

As part of his outreach to farmers, Congress president Rahul Gandhi meets protesting farmers in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur Wednesday (June 6). The Congress has planned a ‘Kisan Samriddhi Sankalp Rally’ in Mandsaur’s district’s Khokhra (Piplia Mandi). During his visit, Mr Gandhi will also meet family members of farmers killed in police firing a year ago.

Sources in the Congress have said that Mr Gandhi, who returned from the US on Monday night, held a meeting with senior party leaders as well as security forces ahead of today’s visit to Mandsaur.

At Mr Gandhi’s ‘Kisan Samriddhi Sankalp Rally’ today, the family members of three out of the six farmers killed in police firing will share the stage with the Congress chief.

Congress leader Meenakshi Natrajan, who was a former lawmaker from Mandsaur, confirmed that her party had approached the family members of farmers who were killed in police firing, and urged them to support and participate in Rahul Gandhi’s rally.

Exactly a year ago, on June 6, 2017, six farmers – Kanhaiya Lal Patidar, Satyanarayan Dhangar, Abhishek Patidar, Bablu, Ghanshyam Dhakad and Chintaman Patidar – were killed in police firing at Mandsaur’s Pipliya Mandi during a farmer agitation.

Speaking with news agency PTI, family members of Abhishek Patidar said that Ms Natrajan personally requested them to attend Rahul Gandhi’s rally today. “Former MP Meenakshi Natrajan approached me with a request to attend the condolence meeting along with my wife Alka. Since it is a condolence meeting, we will attend it,” said Dinesh Patidar, Abhishek’s father.

The family members of Bablu and Ghanshyam Dhakad have also given their consent to attend the programme.

Mr Dhakad’s wife Rekha, who was given a state government job after her husband’s death, also said that the Congress invited them to attend the condolence meeting. “Meenakshi Natrajan invited us to the condolence meeting. Some family members would attend it,” Rekha said, adding that she was given a job and Rs. 1 crore in compensation by the government as per the promise.

Bablu’s wife Anita was also given a state government job and Rs. one crore in compensation. “Bablu’s wife Anita got a job. The government also gave Rs. 1 crore which was equally distributed between Bablu’s mother and wife. We will attend the condolence meeting and share our problems with Rahul Gandhi,” said Bablu’s uncle Balaram Patidar.

However, the kin of Chintaman Patidar have not taken a call yet on attending tomorrow’s programme. “We are yet to decide whether to attend the condolence meeting or not though Meenakshi Natrajan had personally invited us. The government has given us Rs. 1 crore. One of the family members would get a job soon,” said Govind Patidar, Chintaman’s brother.

Farmers had held statewide protests in Madhya Pradesh last year demanding better prices for their crops. The agitation was marred by violence in many parts of the state, especially in Mandsaur district, which emerged as the epicentre of protests.

During his visit to the state, Mr Gandhi is also likely also hold a meeting with senior leaders of the Madhya Pradesh Congress. These include top leaders Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia and other senior state leaders.

Madhya Pradesh is slated to go to polls later this year and the Congress is seeking to make this rally big ahead of the assembly election.