‘Belchi moment’ for Priyanka Gandhi? Congress workers hit the street with 'do or die' spirit

Indira Gandhi rode an elephant to visit Belchi, a village in Patna district, in 1977 to meet the families of Dalits who had been burnt alive. This led to the Congress returning to power in 1980

‘Belchi moment’ for Priyanka Gandhi? Congress workers hit the street with 'do or die' spirit


Is it the ‘Belchi moment’ for Priyanka Gandhi, Congress general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh, who has been trying hard to revive the fortunes of the grand old party in the state?

This sentiment is being expressed after her arrest by UP Police while heading to Lakhimpur Kheri by the rank and file of the Congress party which has hit the street all over north India in protest against the development.

Belchi is a village in Patna district which Indira Gandhi visited in 1977 – when she was out of power – to meet the families of Dalits who had been burnt alive. Indira Gandhi had to ride an elephant to reach the village.

Indira Gandhi’s visit to meet the affected Dalits after undertaking an arduous journey changed public perception about the Congress and created a wave of sympathy for her which culminated in a thumping electoral victory for her in the 1980 polls.

Senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai wrote on Twitter, “So Priyanka Gandhi takes centerstage in Lakhimpur Kheri protests by being on the ground through the night. Her Belchi moment? (I hope a younger India on Twitter doesn’t ask what Belchi is now?)”

President of the Uttar Pradesh Congress, Ajay Kumar Lallu echoed the views expressed by Sardesai. Talking to NH over the phone from Sitapaur, where he has been under detention, Lallu said that history is repeating itself in Uttar Pradesh.

“Then it was Indira Gandhi and the victims were Dalits. Now, it is Priyanka Gandhi and the victims are farmers. People are watching what their leaders are doing,” he said.

Sacrifices made by farmers in this fight between a tyrant government and the people of the country are going to have a huge impact on UP politics. The Congress will bounce back,” said Lallu.

“Belchi incident and the politics that followed is a reminder…when power becomes insensitive to the people, people change it through the ballot,” he added.

The resident editor of a Hindi daily published from Lucknow said that the Lakhimpur Kheri violence should be seen as the turning point in Uttar Pradesh’s political landscape.

“The Congress, which was being written off by observers, has made an electrifying comeback. Priyanka Gandhi remained ahead of her competitors at each and every step. No doubt she has taken centerstage,” he said.

“But BJP and others should not be seen as weak as they have a strong caste base support…and one should not forget that the farmers have no caste,” he added.

Priyanka Gandhi using a broom to clean the floor of the room where she has been kept following her arrest exposed the Yogi government's anti-women face, said a Lucknow-based female journalist.

“She is the daughter of former PM Rajiv Gandhi and granddaughter of Indira Gandhi. She deserves better treatment,” she said.

Shahnawaz Alam, head of the Uttar Pradesh Congress minority cell, said that the Lakhimpur Kheri incident may have an even greater impact than the Belchi event. He opined that the fight between farmers and the BJP government should be seen in light of the Godse vs Gandhi debate.

“Gandhi believed India belongs to farmers while those who worship Godse believe that India belongs to a few rich men. The clash lies here. Farmers are on a warpath…the BJP government cannot stop them,” said Alam.

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Published: 04 Oct 2021, 7:13 PM