On the verge of concluding his speech at the Panchayat Conference, Gandhi was interrupted by one of the sarpanches complaining that they have not received any assistance from the state government.
    
In the meeting with elected members of local self-government (Panchayati Raj), Gandhi was promising them to get their rights in the state when Sarpanch Parikshit Singh of Udhampur district resorted to protest against the state government for keeping them without rights for last three years.
    
"Sir, I am also a sarpanch. All sarpanches are with you. We all sarpanches from Congress are with you and are ready to dedicate our life. But we have a complaint. While we got everything from the Central government, we got nothing from the state government," Singh said, backed by other irate panchayat members.
    
"We have been deceived by the state government for past three years over empowerment-- nothing has been given to us - we wanted Rahul to facilitate our empowerment," Singh added.
    
As Gandhi noticed the commotion, he assured the sarpanches that he had come to the state only because he was interested in fighting for their empowerment. Gandhi assured the Panchayat officials saying, "You will get your right. I will fight this battle for you. I will keep coming and keep mounting pressure...You have to fight this battle."
    
"We are with you. We, all of us together, will put pressure on the state government. We are with you. This thing will happen cent percent," Gandhi said. The Congress vice-president also reminded them that it had taken one and half year for the passage of land acquisition Bill even after he had launched the agitation for farmers in Bhatta Parsaul in Uttar Pradesh.

 (Agencies)

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