Congress spokesperson Deepender Singh Hooda also sought to justify party Vice President Rahul Gandhi's nearly two-month-long sabbatical and absence from parliament, saying: "It's the prerogative of the media and the people to interpret whatever they can, but the fact remains that this is the fight for the farmers. It's a rally for the rights of the farmers," Singh, a Rohtak MP, told mediapersons here.

"Besides putting pressure on the Narendra Modi government for withdrawal of the bill, we will demand higher compensation for farmers hit by unseasonal rains,” he said.

Having remained out of the public eye for nearly two months, Rahul Gandhi, who returned to his official residence in Delhi on Thursday morning, is slated to spearhead the kisan (farmer) rally on Sunday.

Hooda also sought to defend Gandhi's absence from parliament when the bill was being discussed, saying: "Rahul's 2011 agitation in Bhatta Parsaul (Uttar Pradesh) against forcible land acquisition culminated in the enactment of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. He played a major role in formulating the original bill."

“And so far as his absence is concerned, I have never come across any professional who has not taken a break. The party has already given answers on his break so I don't think there is anything more to say," Hooda added.

Asserting that the bill promulgated by the UPA II was vastly different, Hooda described the current bill as draconian and anti-farmer while rubbishing reports of any rift within the party, especially the Haryana Congress.

"Our president is Sonia Gandhi and Rahul is our vice president. The entire party is united and stands behind both of them. As regards to whether Rahul Gandhi will be handed over the party's reigns, it is a question that will be answered in due course of time," he added.

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