Greater Noida/Lucknow, May 12: An all out political war broke out among Congress, BJP and BSP over the issue of farmers' agitation in Uttar Pradesh with Chief Minister Mayawati accusing Opposition parties of spreading “lies and rumours” and doing “dirty politics”.
A day after Rahul Gandhi made a dramatic entry into the Bhatta Parsaul village in Greater Noida and held a dharna supporting farmers' agitation for better compensation for their land, Mayawati accused him of engaging in “mean theatrics”.
Congress was quick to jump to his defence lambasting the BSP chief for the arrest and subsequent release of Gandhi saying that Mayawati government was “digging its own grave” through such actions and her reaction was “due to frustration” as she has realised that she would be voted out in the next Assembly elections.
Senior BJP leaders Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait along with their supporters were detained by UP Police while they were agitating in support of farmers of Greater Noida who are seeking more compensation from the state government for their acquired land.
Joshi and scores of Congress leaders, including legislators, and workers were baton-charged and detained in Lucknow and elsewhere during a statewide ‘chakka jam' protest by the party against the arrest of Gandhi in Bhatta Parsaul last night and in support of farmers' demands in western UP.
Similar protests were held in other parts of the state including Jhansi, Meerut, Allahabad and Sitapur districts.
The Congress had announced a state-wide chakka jam to protest Gandhi's arrest in Bhatta Parsaul last night and in support of farmers' demands in western UP.
After a three-hour midnight drama of arrest and release, Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi was finally escorted back to Delhi by the UP police through the DND expressway and left at the inter-state bus terminus at Sarai Kale Khan early morning.
Hitting back at the opposition, Mayawati said the clashes in Greater Noida had nothing to do with the issue of land compensation and accused the Congress, BJP and other parties of attempting to disturb law and order by spreading “rumours” while dubbing Gandhi's dharna as “mean theatrics”.
“By spreading lies and rumours, opposition parties are attempting to disturb law and order situation by misleading people and Bhatta Parsaul incident is an example of their dirty politics,” Mayawati told reporters in Lucknow.
As the war of words intensified between Congress and BSP, BJP attacked both the parties for the plight of farmers.
Undertaking a fast in support of agitating farmers in western UP, BJP leader Rajnath Singh said Chief Minister Mayawati should step down and the state government stop acquiring land until the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill is passed by Parliament. He along with Jaitley and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was arrested by the police.
Making a strong pitch for a judicial inquiry, party leader Digvijay Singh suspected that large number of people could have been killed during the agitation other than the three farmers whose deaths were confirmed by the state administration.
He said there were heaps of ashes at many places in the village from where bones were found, which raise doubts that many more persons were killed during the agitation. “Only an inquiry can find out whose bones are these,” he said. Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley criticised the Centre for the delay in introducing the bill to amend the Land Acquisition Act.
He blamed the UPA's government's attitude on the issue for the “murders” of farmers in police firing in Greater Noida and said the Centre cannot escape responsibility. The BJP leaders also saw some collusion between the Congress and the BSP on the issue.
“Section 144 was lifted when two Congress General Secretaries Rahul Gandhi and Digvijay Singh went there. Now they are sitting on a dharna there. I appeal to Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not to do any nautanki (theatrics) in the biggest state of the country,” Rajnath Singh told reporters yesterday.
Senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani, however, appeared on a different pitch on the issue of Rahul's entry. Asked if he felt Congress and BSP were hand-in-glove as Gandhi was allowed to reach Bhatta Parsaul village, Advani said, “Whoever is supporting the cause of farmers is doing a good deed.”
Advani, however, demanded that the Land Acquisition Bill should be amended at the earliest.
“The union Cabinet should finalise the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill as soon as possible and present it in Parliament,” he said.
Meanwhile security has been stepped up in Greater Noida with the administration re-clamping prohibitory orders.
“To make sure that there is no law and order problem, we have spoken to all concerned Superintendents of Police that they don't allow any break in law and order or any ‘chakka jam'. We have given instructions,” a senior police official said.
Officials said curfew will be clamped if the situation so warrants.
After four persons, including two policemen, were killed in Saturday's clashes between police and farmers in Greater Noida, the place has turned into a political battleground for parties which have flayed the Uttar Pradesh government's land acquisition policy.
Bhatta Parsaul has been witnessing stray incidents of violence this year over the issue of land acquisition meant for various projects of the Mayawati government. The district police has arrested 22 farmers of the village. PTI