In a counter-offensive, UP Chief Minister Mayawati on Thursday accused the Centre of not providing due compensation to farmers for Rae Bareli coach factory land and said Mr. Rahul Gandhi should have been standing with them and not in Bhatta Parsaul.

The Congress reacted sharply saying the land was acquired for a railway project which is in public interest and “not for private builders and developers” as was being done by her government.

As the UP turf war intensified with Mr. Rahul Gandhi raising the stakes by joining farmers’ agitation in Greater Noida, where he was arrested late Wednesday night, Ms. Mayawati told reporters, “If he really was a well wisher of farmers, he should have been standing with them in Rae Bareli instead of Bhatta Parsaul where there is no issue of land compensation”.

When Congress was playing “dirty politics at Bhatta Parsaul village, the cavalcade of Congress chief and local MP Sonia Gandhi was stopped by farmers in Rae Bareli on Wednesday who alleged that they had been given compensation which was neither in keeping with the circle rate nor with the market rate,” she said in Lucknow.

The BSP supremo claimed the farmers of Rae Bareli “are sore” that the announcements made at the time of foundation laying ceremony of the factory as well as other meetings of compensation and employment have not been fulfilled and the Congress has remained silent on it.

“They have also said that their written complaints in this regard have all gone unanswered,” she said.

Criticising Ms. Mayawati’s statement, party spokesman Akhilesh Pratap Singh said, “Unlike acquisition by Mayawati government where land is later transferred to private builders and developers, acquisition for RCF project is in public interest.”

He said adequate compensation was paid to the farmers.

“Such projects not only create immense direct and indirect employment opportunity, but also boost the local economy. The RCF will provide employment to estimated 15,000 people,” he said in Rae Bareli.

Mr. Singh said that 283 hectare land required for the project was purchased by the railways directly from the farmers, whereas 189 hectare has been provided by the state government on lease.

“Compensation to farmers was paid at 60 per cent higher rate of the highest registry of that year. Compensation was paid ranging between minimum Rs 9.74 lakh to maximum 12.42 lakh per hectare,” the party spokesman said.

He said that land of 1,200 farmers was acquired and compensation had been paid to maximum number of them.

“Total 2,500 cheques were prepared and barring 35 all had been distributed. Besides majority of land acquired was barren,” he said.

Mr. Singh said that there is a provision that those affected by the land acquisition would get job in the RCF.

“Of 89 people to whom works were sublet by the railways 63 are local people,” he said.

He alleged that the railways had requested the state government to transfer 69 hectare land of gram sabha, but nothing had been done despite the fact that a letter was sent in March last year.