From Bhatta-Parsaul, Rahul leads campaign against Mayawati (Roundup)

July 5th, 2011 - 10:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Rahul Gandhi Nangla Bhattauna (Uttar Pradesh), July 5 (IANS) On a day the Supreme Court slammed the state as the biggest land grabber, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi took his campaign against forced land acquisition in Uttar Pradesh to the farmer’s doorstep part of his party’s attempts to nail the Mayawati regime ahead of next year’s assembly polls.

Gandhi surprised the Mayawati government with his unannounced march (padyatra) through western parts of the state by reaching Bhatta-Parsaul village in Greater Noida at 6 a.m. Tuesday and embarking on a visit to neighbouring villages.

Walking from village to village, Gandhi, attired in white kurta-pyjama without any prominent Congress leader accompanying him, told farmers at each stop that he was with them in their fight.

“I am listening to you, I am with you,” the Congress general secretary told a gathering in this village in the lucrative Greater Noida belt, about 60 km from the Indian capital, on the first day of his proposed foot march that is expected to culminate in Aligarh July 9 with a “kisan mahapanchayat (farmers’ rally)”.

The venue of the rally was shifted to Aligarh after the party was denied permission to hold it in Bhatta-Parsaul.

Gandhi walked 12 km from the twin villages of Bhatta-Parsaul - the epicentre of a farmers’ agitation against land acquisition and inadequate compensation for acquired land - and reached Nangla Bhattauna.

“I have come to you. I am listening to you. I am with you… I went to Bhatta-Parsaul to know the truth. Sitting in Delhi, I cannot know the truth… land acquisition is taking place from here to Agra,” Gandhi, 41, said.

Four people, including two policemen, were killed in violence in Bhatta-Parsaul in May.

Gandhi’s visit to rural areas of Greater Noida coincided with the Supreme Court making critical observation in a case relating to land acquisition by the Mayawati government in Greater Noida.

The court said that the state was the biggest land grabber, depriving farmers of their livelihood for generations.

The apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly Tuesday said that farmers’ lands were being acquired in the name of public interest and being given to builders to construct luxury houses, which had nothing to do with the requirement of the common man.

Gandhi’s visit to the area comes about two months after he was detained during a visit to Bhatta-Parsaul immediately after the police violence in May.

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) termed Gandhi’s march as a “political drama. ”

Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said Gandhi was visiting areas where atrocities had been committed against farmers. However, he did not reply to a query if Congressmen had been asked to keep away from Gandhi’s march. “I have no information,” Ahmed said.

Party general secretary Digvijay Singh, who is in charge of party affairs in Uttar Pradesh, earlier said that party workers need not show up during Gandhi’s march to mark their presence before him and should come for the rally in Aligarh.

He said Gandhi’s march from Bhatta-Parsaul was aimed at getting first-hand information from people on the land acquisition policy of the Mayawati government.

“When and where he will go, we do not have information,” Singh told reporters.

He said that farmers facing problems relating to land acquisition in any part of Uttar Pradesh should come to Aligarh July 9 and speak out from a non-political platform where there will be no Congress flags.

“Rahul-ji will listen to them and work towards a solution,” the Congress leader said.

During his march Tuesday, Gandhi also visited Akhepur, Mirzapur, Rosa, Rustampur, Bhypur and Nagla-Hukum Singh villages.

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