Janata Dal (Secular) intensified its agitation against the Bangalore-Mysore Express highway project promoted by Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE), with party chief and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda staging a dharna with farmers at a village coming under the scheme.

“From today, I myself will sit in dharna along with farmers. I will continue the agitation. Let the government arrest me also as it did with the farmers,” Mr. Gowda told reporters.

The former prime minister sat in the dharna at Hemmigepura village on the NICE-built road in the city outskirts, joining in a spate of protests by farmers on the issue.

Mr. Gowda said he would take a day’s break on Friday to visit Kolkata to call on veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu, whose health condition has turned critical.

“This is the most uncivilised government the state ever had. We can no more tolerate it. Farmers have been handcuffed by this government,” he said, criticising the BJP government.

He also alleged that there were attacks on farmers by those hired by NICE and police have refused to register cases against the culprits.

“I will agitate against this government throughout the state,” he said.