Aligarh: Braving heavy rains, farmers and Congress workers on Saturday gathered here for the 'kisan mahapanchayat', marking the culmination of Rahul Gandhi's four-day foot march in Uttar Pradesh.

Travelling in buses, trucks and tractor-trolleys, the villagers arrived from the wee hours at the sprawling Nomaish Ground here, amid tight security.

Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid, Union Ministers Sachin Pilot and Jitin Prasad and state unit president Rita Bahuguna Joshi were among those present.

Heavy rains, however, led to water logging at the venue and also damaged the waterproof tents erected for the assembly to be addressed by Rahul. But the crowds soon began to surge as the showers stopped.

"We have come here because we are hopeful that Rahul Gandhi's leadership will herald change in Uttar Pradesh," said a Congress leader from Meerut J P Singh, who has been camping here since Friday night.

With Congress leaders and workers thronging the town, no hotel accommodation was available in the area.

Huge posters of Rahul Gandhi dominated the complex. Four big hoardings on the stage had pictures of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Rahul, Joshi and AICC incharge for UP Digvijay Singh.

A multi-tier security ring was in place in and around the venue. On Thursday, Rahul faced a security scare when a young man carrying a licensed revolver was detained while trying to move close to him in Tappal during the 'padyatra'.

Rahul on Friday wound up his foot march through the dusty heartlands of rural Uttar Pradesh and returned to Delhi.

Describing the padayatra as an unforgettable experience that has enlightened him of the farmers’ problems, the Gandhi scion had said, "I have learnt a lot after talking to you. I am young and from you I have gained a world of knowledge on land acquisition issues...I can never forget all this all my lifetime and the fact that I am taking back so much from you.”

The foot march, flagged off from Bhatta on Tuesday, saw the Congress leader spanning over 70 km in hot and sultry weather conditions.

"The yatra was a mass awakening call for the farmers...I have already achieved what I set out to achieve. I am more than pleased. I wanted to bring this matter on the national radar and help farmers voice their concerns. I have done that," Gandhi had said.

While interacting with Gandhi during the foot march, the farmers demanded adequate compensation for their land, jobs in lieu of acquired lands, enhanced compensation for fertile land and compensation in lieu of tubewells that get acquired along with swathes of land.

Rahul arrived at Aligarh's exhibition grounds post noon to address a massive farmers' gathering in a show of political strength against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati.

Delayed by rains, the MP flew into the district and later reached the local exhibition grounds amid loud cheers from hundreds of farmers.

The roads remained sealed to offer safe passage to Rahul, who is here to listen to farmers’ grievances for over three hours as part of his 'kisan mahapanchayat' programme’.

Hundreds of police personnel have been deployed and a control room set up in a nearby hotel, from where authorities are keeping a watch on the venue.

"This is the first ever time a national party of the stature of the Congress has organized such a huge gathering of farmers," Joshi told the 'mahapanchayat'.

(Agencies)