Congress leaders arrested, released in Ghaziabad

July 29th, 2008 - 7:35 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) Heralding a bitter battle between the two parties in the coming days, senior Congress leaders, on way to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s native village to protest against her “land grabbing”, were arrested on the Delhi-UP border Tuesday. Uttar Pradesh police arrested Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, Dausa MP Sachin Pilot and state party president Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who were on way to Mayawati’s Badalpur village, where the state Congress unit had organized a farmers’ agitation.

“We wanted to participate in the meeting which was organized to protest against the arbitrary land acquisition in Badalpur village. We wanted to support the farmers who were demanding a fair price for their land,” Pilot told IANS over telephone.

The leaders, along with the local unit, were protesting against the alleged land grabbing done by the Bahuajan Samaj Party (BSP) chief.

The Congress party has accused the chief minister of constructing a palatial house over 47 ‘bighas’ (16 acres) of land in her native village and the district has issued notices for land acquisition for 230.554 hectares in Badalpur, and 142.160 hectares in adjacent Saadupur.

The party also alleged that the Mayawati government was going to do the same in two other neighbouring villages Acheja and Bisnaula.

Pilot said the district administration had stopped the leaders’ carcade at the Delhi-UP border and arrested them. Later, the police also arrested farmers who came to take part in the rally, he added.

All those arrested were released in the evening.

Although the rally did not take place, the Congress leaders promised to carry on with their protests.

“We will not give up. We will see that these protests reach a logical conclusion,” Pilot said.

The protest and the arrests came in the wake of worsening ties between the Congress and its one-time ally BSP. The Uttar Pradesh chief minister and her party were in the forefront to ensure the defeat of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in the recent trust vote in parliament.

Although Prime Minister Manmohan Singh won the trust vote, the differences are expected to deepen further as the Congress had joined hands with BSP’s archrival Samajwadi Party to win the confidence vote after its Left allies withdrew legislative support.

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