Mayawati's "greed" responsible for violence... the government is up for grabs for those who have money to spend: Digvijay

Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh has accused Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati of pitting farmers against the police in a bid to cling to power.

Talking to journalists here on Monday, he held Ms. Mayawati responsible for the farmers' unrest in parts of western Uttar Pradesh and accused the police of indulging in violence.

Condemning the arrest of Leader of the Opposition Shivpal Singh Yadav and 100 Samajwadi Party workers in Greater Noida, Mr. Mulayam Singh said Mr. Yadav should not have been stopped by the police from proceeding to Bhatta Parsaul.

“Since the farmers have been staging a dharna to protest against land acquisition for the past three to four months, talks to resolve the dispute should have been initiated by the government,” Mr. Mulayam Singh said. The land acquisition done in haste by the present government in parts of western Uttar Pradesh resulted in the volatile situation. In this context, he referred to the 2500 acres his government had acquired for the Dadri power project; the deal was clinched through the consent of farmers. The government also increased the rate of compensation.

Senior leader Mohammad Azam Khan said it was not the job of the government to trade in land as it was doing in Noida and Greater Noida. “The farmers are the owners of land, but in this case bureaucrats and others have become landowners, earning profit.” Mr. Khan said Mr. Mulayam Singh would visit the affected villages soon.

Congress steps up attack

PTI reports:

The Congress stepped up attack on the Mayawati government comparing the situation with that of Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal.

Party spokesperson Manish Tewari at the same time dismissed suggestions that the situation would not have arisen in the BSP-ruled State had the Centre got the amended Land Acquisition Act passed by Parliament and the Relief and Rehabilitation Policy approved.

While urging the UPA government to ensure that these two crucial bills are passed, he rejected the contention that it could not be done so far owing to opposition from Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee.

“The Congress strongly condemns the way farmers are being persecuted in western Uttar Pradesh and Noida. Whatever be the reason and motive, the way the Chief Minister has tried to start a new tradition of development by use of sticks and guns will have far reaching impact.

“Whether it is Singur or Nandigram, as long as local people are not made to participate in development, it cannot be carried forward,” Mr. Tewari told journalists at the AICC briefing.

Favours amendment

Mr. Tewari acknowledged: “There is a strong case for amendment in the Land Acquisition Act. It must be amended. The Relief and Rehabilitation policy should be brought before Parliament and be passed at the earliest.”

Asked whether the bills would see the light of the day in view of Ms. Banerjee's protest, Mr. Tewari said, “On a matter as contentious as land acquisition, various parties of the UPA may have different positions but it does not mean that any political party can veto UPA's policy and programmes.” The Congress spokesperson at the same time it was wrong to presume that had these laws been in place, the situation in Noida could have been averted.

AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh told reporters here that Mayawati's “greed” was responsible for the violence and demanded a judicial inquiry into the entire episode. “The greed of Mayawati has overtaken her sensible decisions. The whole government is up for grabs for those who have money to spend,” Mr. Singh told reporters here.

‘Compensation meagre'

K.V. Prasad reports from New Delhi:

The Communist Party of India has condemned the police firing and demanded that the government halt the police action, release the arrested farmers, pay compensation and begin negotiations.

The CPI Central Secretariat said the agitation was not against land acquisition but against a meagre compensation. As the price of land in Greater Noida had gone up, there was a huge gap between the market rate and the compensation paid by the government. This caused tension among peasants.

Justifying the demand for putting off the process until a new land acquisition and rehabilitation policy was in place, the party said the UPA-II was “shamelessly surrendering” before Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, who had stalled a discussion on the subject.

The All-India Kisan Sabha, affiliated to the CPI(M), too, condemned the police action.

In a statement, it said the farmers in the region were agitating for more than a year against land acquisition, and the movement was by and large peaceful. “However, the State government has been indifferent to their demands and has been … selling the land acquired on the pretext of industrialisation to private builders for real estate. Lakhs of acres… is being acquired in the name of the Yamuna Expressway, the Ganga Expressway and various other projects.”

The Sabha said the State's land acquisition policy did not take into account the concerns of farmers: there was no provision in it for fair compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement as well as a share in profits in the event of a change in land use. The absence of democratic consultation with farmers and the undue delay in passing the Land Acquisition Amendment Act as well as the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act by the Centre were only adding to the problem. The State government's refusal to negotiate with farmers engaged in a peaceful agitation had brought the situation to such a pass.