Much ado about Rahul Gandhi’s ash claim

May 18, 2011

By Annie Banerji

Days after Rahul Gandhi’s dramatic motorcycle pillion ride to twin villages in Uttar Pradesh to quell land acquisition agitations between police and farmers, the Congress general secretary told Indian media that he found a 70-foot pile of ashes with human remains inside.

He added that women had been raped, people had been beaten up and the police had torn down houses during the protests.

On questioning the villagers of Bhatta and Parsaul, the Indian Express found that not a single person backed Gandhi’s assertions. The main refrain was that of police beating up villagers and mistreating them.

Gandhi’s claims of unaccounted-for people seemed undermined with the Times of India reporting that the only officially “missing” person was traced to a hospital in New Delhi. Even those who have been staying away fearing police brutality are trickling back to their homes.

Even though Gandhi produced pictures to corroborate his claims, the startled expressions of villagers in reaction to the allegations and the ground reality of the situation hints at a political gimmick from his ruling Congress party in a state where it is trying to strengthen its base with assembly elections looming next year.

Congress had earlier chosen Gandhi, son of party chief Sonia Gandhi, to face the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the state and his focus has since been on Dalits, Muslims and the backward classes.

The current situation suggests early elections in Uttar Pradesh due to poor governance and the volatile condition of the state. The Congress is to set a party agenda for the upcoming assembly elections wherein their prime concern will be on issues related to the common man, plight of farmers, land acquisition and pitiable governance by the BSP.

Rahul Gandhi asserted in a recent press briefing that the principal aim is not of winning in the assembly elections, but to show Uttar Pradesh the path of prosperity.

If the Central Forensic Scientific Laboratory of India’s Central Bureau of Investigation prove Rahul Gandhi’s allegations to be false, it might send those who confide in him back on unstable political ground.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see


Posted by mavsumit | Report as abusive

I must say, a very good analytical presentation and thought provoking piece of writing. However, i don’t agree with all the points in the article, but it’s super presentation is inspiring. Keep up the level of this writing.

Posted by PrabalBhardwaj | Report as abusive

Rahul Gandhi certainly stole a march (a ride!) over other political parties by managing to reach Bhatta Parsaul, but his rather “startling” press conference shows either a cynical exploitation of news cycles like other dyed-in-khadi netas or sheer desperation after his magic failed to work in Bihar, Bengal, TN and Kerala.

(UP is the only state where his handpicked candidates found some traction in the last Lok Sabha polls.)

Has Rahul baba grown up? Or is he yet to, as a politician? – is the question.

Posted by VipulTripathi | Report as abusive

Rahul Gandhi suffers the same drawbacks as his father Rajiv did, Too little experience yet jettisoned to the very top and then being ‘guided’ and coached by sychophants with dubious intentions.

As one report put it, the Congress and Rahul Gandhi probably saw this as their Nandigram moment – and fell flat on their faces.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

This Are Turbulent Times For Indian Politicians Across The Vast Spectrum Of Political Class.

Average Citizens With Strong Leadership Coming From Within The Civil Society And Along With Certain Media Supporting The Civil Society, Have Shown The Government What Can They Achieve If desired.

This Are The Times When One Person Can Take This As An Opportunity Of A Life Time And Take His Career To Greater Heights As A Politician…

With Narendra Modi Not So Keen To Get Into The Fold Of National Politics, Only One Man Has This Opportunity, As No One From The Opposition Parties Nor The Partners Of The UPA Have That One Person.

This One Person Is Non Other Than Rahul Gandhi, Who IS Doing A Miserable Job Of This Opportunity, This One Incident Has Proved Beyond Doubt That Mr. Rahul Baba Has Not Yet Grown As His Age Has.

The Reason For This Is… He Has To Build His Coterie Who Understand The Pulse Of The Nation And Are Willing To Put Their Ears To The Ground, But Incidentally He Follows Someone Who Is On His Own Trip… A Certain Mr. Digvijay Singh.

If At All, Rahul Baba Has To Grow To Be A Man… A Man Who Went On to Become The Prime Minister Of India… Then He Need To Rethink His Association With Digvijay Singh, Cause What Ever Happened In Bhatta Parsaul… Happened Cause Of Irrational Thinking Of Digvijay Singh, What Was He Thinking When He Instigated Rahul Baba To Say All Of The Nonsense About Human Ashes… Who Would Believe This… For God Sake… This Is Not Bosnia… This Is India…

Rahul Gandhi, If Cant Take His Own decisions, Will Be Better Off To Leave His Ambition Behind And Let His Sister, Priyanka Vadhera Take The Mantel Of India, She Is A Far Sensible Politician Than Rahul.

Posted by Dhruvj | Report as abusive