Rahul Gandhi’s khat is farmers’ real honour
Ningombam Bupenda Meitei
“खाट घर ले जाने और खाट चोरी करने या लूटने में बहुत फर्क है। एक खाट ले जाने से कोई किसान धन्ना सेठ नहीं हो जाएगा । राहुल गांधी ने स्थानीय लोगों के मूल्यों का सम्मान किया, उनका स्वागत खाट बिछा कर किया, यहाँ अतिथियों का सम्मान ऐसे ही किया जाता है।
यदि किसानों द्वारा खाट ले जाना राहुल गांधी की विफलता है तो क्या यदि खाट जस की तस पड़ी रहने को हम राहुल गांधी की सफलता का मानक मान सकते हैं?”
When farmers and villagers humbly take away khat (cots) – which is popularly called ‘khat’ in western Uttar Pradesh while it is known as ‘charpai’ or ‘khat’ in eastern Uttar Pradesh – from the venue, where Rahul Gandhi was not only giving speech but also interacting with the farmers, the same farmers and villagers are outrightly rejected as not being ‘honest’ and are unceremoniously termed as ‘looters’ of khat.
If those farmers and villagers have become looters in the eyes of some media, then what would those ‘some media’ term those political parties, which are in power in Lucknow and Delhi, that have miserably failed to listen to the farmers and the villagers of Uttar Pradesh. Those farmers and villagers, who went to listen to Rahul Gandhi’s genuine concerns for them, were not thieves; they were honestly poor – economically – people of Uttar Pradesh. They are poor not because of themselves, but because of those who take away their rights and scuttle their voices from Lucknow and Delhi. They will not become economically rich once they loot one khat. They will not become traders by looting and selling one khat. The question is not why they did loot – neither loot nor theft took place; rather, the question should be: why they did go back home with khat. “Going back home with khat” is hugely different from “leaving the venue of congregation by either stealing or looting khat”.
Rahul Gandhi believes in respecting the values associated with the farmers of Uttar Pradesh. To welcome the farmers and the villagers in the venue, cots (khat) were placed. Khat has historically linked social values. A guest is welcomed by laying down a khat. Khat is a symbol of the sensitivity of honour which is bestowed on guests. Khat (or ‘charpai’) was historically quoted by Ibn Battuta who travelled from Morocco to India in the early 14th century. Khat (or ‘charpai’) is also popular in Malaysia.
The question is: whether Rahul Gandhi’s khat could be perceived as similar to the idea of Mayawati’s elephant statue or Akhilesh Yadav’s bicycle. The answer is: the comparison sounds rationally illogical as unlike elephant statue is to Mayawati and bicycle is to Akhilesh Yadav, khat is neither to Rahul Gandhi nor his party. Khat is khat, khat is for farmers and villagers; it is not for Rahul Gandhi or the Congress to market and try to get votes. In fact, Rahul Gandhi was not pulling the crowd through khat. He was honouring the farmers and the villagers through khat. His honour was genuine, his sensitivity towards the honour of farmers and villagers was from his heart, he was present with them not to give away khat but to sit with them on khat and listen to them to solve the issues of the common farmers, the villagers, and the people of Uttar Pradesh.
It is publicised that the very act of taking away of khat by farmers and villagers suggests the insignificance of Rahul Gandhi’s presence, as khat was more valued than Gandhi. So, they – the farmers and the villagers – went not to Rahul Gandhi but to take khat and bring it home. And, therefore, Rahul Gandhi’s khat sabha was disastrously a failure and mockery of himself. This is what some media play and make an attempt to logically argue to forcibly construct that Rahul Gandhi’s khat sabha did fail as Gandhi himself could not attract the crowd.
The argument to logically destroy “this artificial construction of Rahul Gandhi’s khat sabha as a failed experimentation” is in the inability to rationally link between the cause “khat being carried away” and the effect “Rahul Gandhi’s failure”. If “khat being carried away” amounts to “Rahul Gandhi’s failure”, then will the contrary “khat being kept in its place – the venue” amount to “Rahul Gandhi’s success”? The term “khat being carried away” is entirely different from “khat being either stolen or looted”. If media report “the farmers have looted khat”, then why would a khat be looted so disgracefully if Rahul Gandhi were giving it free to the farmers and the villagers? So, if media suggest that “there was a loot of khat”, then it logically infers that “khat was not freely available for the farmers and the villagers, and therefore khat was forcibly looted”. And, if khat was not meant for a free distribution, then why would Rahul Gandhi be charged of “using khat” to lure anyone? But, the media project two points; (a) “Rahul Gandhi was luring the farmers and the villagers through khat”, and (b) “The farmers and the villagers looted khat”. There is no logical consistency between the two points (a) and (b). Since, there is no consistency in the argument given on media, it is, therefore, either “Rahul Gandhi did lure with khat and gave khat freely, and so no looting of khat was required” or “Rahul Gandhi did not lure with khat, and therefore khat was to be forcibly looted” would undoubtedly and rationally make a logical sense. Media’s projection that Rahul Gandhi lured the farmers and the villagers to loot khat sounds horribly unreasonable and illogical to even make an attempt to argue. Then, what is the reality? Did Rahul Gandhi lure with khat or not? Did the farmers and the villagers loot khat or not?
If, at all, Rahul Gandhi had to lure with khat, then he would have placed almost equal number of cots (khat) calculating, approximately, the anticipated number of people to be present in the gathering. But, the number of cots (khat) was far less than the total number of the people present, and that is the reflection that Rahul Gandhi was not luring the crowd through khat. What was Rahul Gandhi doing with khat, then? To answer to this question, one needs to feel more than merely understand the values of khat and the respect it carries in the world of India’s rural villages of Uttar Pradesh, and those values and that respect were gracefully presented and responsibly shown by Rahul Gandhi to the farmers and the villagers, present in the venue where he was giving his speech.
If, at all, they – the farmers and the villagers – had looted khat, then there should not have been peace in the venue as “looting” is not a peaceful activity. But, how was the venue so tranquil when the so called “looting of khat” took place? Was it actually looting, in front of Uttar Pradesh Police and local leaders of the Congress, or was it merely an act of taking, which is not the same as “looting”, khat home? To answer to this question, one must realise that the poorest of the poor villagers and farmers, who could never dare to raise their voices, would never loot in a day when the entire state and political leaders were present in the place where the loot was taking place. If they have really looted, that is a sign of worry for Lucknow and Delhi, and that is nothing but a need to restore the pride and honour of the farmers and the villagers of Uttar Pradesh.
In democracy like India’s, Rahul Gandhi can take an insult on him, but he, as a leader of the poor farmers and villagers, cannot take an insult to the farmers and the villagers of India by terming them as “looters of khat”, when the truth is that they are not the looters, they are “the custodian of khat” in the world. Khat belongs to the farmers and the villagers, Rahul Gandhi honours them through the bond of khat. It is through khat, the soul of the pride of every farmer and villager, Rahul Gandhi’s khat sabha was not only a mere success but also has a much deeper sense of bringing back the lost honour to the farmers and the villagers of Uttar Pradesh.
(इस आलेख में व्यक्त किए गए विचार लेखक के निजी विचार हैं।)