Mayawati derails Sonia’s plan
Mayawati has cancelled the allotment of land for a railway coach factory in Rae Bareli, just three days before Sonia Gandhi was scheduled to attend a ceremony at the site to mark the beginning of construction, report M Hasan and Umesh Raghuvanshi.india Updated: Oct 13, 2008 00:51 IST
Mayawati has cancelled the allotment of land for a railway coach factory in Sonia Gandhi’s constituency Rae Bareli, just three days before the Congress chief was scheduled to attend a ceremony at the site to mark the beginning of construction.
The Uttar Pradesh chief minister’s decision is being seen by state Congress leaders as a move targeted at Sonia Gandhi. She is believed to have been unhappy with a rally Sonia Gandhi held last month in Dadri against land acquisition from farmers in Badalpur, Mayawati’s village.
Considered a dream project of the Congress chief, the rail factory with an investment of Rs 1,689.25 crore was expected to provide employment to at least 10,000 people from the area.
The move marks a new low in the relationship between Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress-led coalition at the Centre, which she had supported from outside till early this year. It is expected to raise the temperature in the run-up to the general elections next year.
But state government officials said Mayawati’s order on Saturday canceling the allotment of 189.25 hectare near Lalganj had everything to do with opposition from villagers.
Principal Secretary (Information) Vijay Shankar Pandey told reporters on Sunday that the government’s decision was based on the district magistrate’s report about resentment among farmers over the acquisition of land.
The government had allotted the land on May 19 this year.
Rae Bareli district magistrate Santosh Srivastava in his October 10 report to the state government said that “land acquisition could lead to law and order problems in Rae Bareli”, Pandey said.
The DM said the proposed factory required nearly 700 acre land and farmers were afraid that their land might be acquired for the purpose.
Pandey added that instructions had been issued for the arrangement of alternative land for the project. “As of now there is no land for the project,” Pandey said.
Reacting sharply, Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) spokesman Akhilesh Pratap Singh said: “The decision had once again demonstrated that the BSP government was against development of the state.”
Local Congress leaders said though Sonia Gandhi won’t have the Bhoomi Pujan of the rail project to attend, she might still address a scheduled rally at Lalganj on October 14. “Sonia Gandhi’s programme is still on. It may take place in some form or the other,” said Kishori Lal Sharma, a party leader making preparations for the rally.
UPCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi said people of Dehar, Sohawal and Bannamau villages had given their consent in writing for the acquisition and that the “state government’s move will stall development”.
She said the state government had not given the go-ahead to three other projects being set up in Rae Bareli.