Hours after the Allahabad High Court ordered status quo on a piece of land where Congress president Sonia Gandhi was to perform a religious ceremony for a rail coach factory in her Rae Bareli constituency, the Uttar Pradesh government imposed prohibitory orders to prevent a Congress rally in the area.
The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) government imposed the order under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code that prevents the gathering of more than five people in the area.
Gandhi, also the United Progressive ALliance (UPA) chairperson, is slated to hold a rally on Tuesday in Lalganj in Rae Bareli where a rail coach factory is proposed to come up. The Uttar Pradesh government had on Saturday night taken back the 400 acres it had allotted to the Indian Railways for the project. The high court on Monday ordered status quo on the land.
The Congress maintained that Gandhi would go ahead with the scheduled rally and 'Bhoomi Pujan' for the rail coach project.
Additional District Magistrate DL Verma, in a statement, said the state government, "using its discretionary powers, has banned any kind of gathering, rally or public address" in Rae Bareli with immediate effect.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Congress spokesperson, said in a statement that the Congress chief "will come irrespective of the state government's stand after the high court decision".
Vivek SIngh, a Congress MLA of Banda district, also said that Gandhi would go ahead with the rally. "Sonia Gandhi will come and we will go to Lalganj for the rally."
Earlier, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Monday ordered status quo on the land while hearing a writ of Northern Railway (NR) and a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) of villagers of Rae Bareli. The court has given a week's time to the state government to file a counter affidavit.
The Northern Railway (NR) moved the high court seeking a stay on the Uttar Pradesh government's decision to withdraw the land. Villagers and farmers of Lalganj also filed a PIL stating that the move of the state government would deprive the region of better development and job opportunities.
A division bench comprising Justice Pradeep Kant and Shabiul Hasnain, while ordering that status quo be maintained, listed the matter for further hearing Oct 22.
"The court has given a week's time to the state government to file a counter affidavit and 24 hours to the petitioners thereafter to file a rejoinder," Mohammad Arif Khan, the counsel of the petitioners, told reporters after the hearing.
Earlier, the court also summoned records related to the land and made a specific query regarding cancelling the allotment without giving proper opportunity to the petitioners.
Meanwhile, the state government, through its counsel, told the court that it will not take back possession of the land from the railway.
The railway, a few months ago, had acquired the land after paying compensation of Rs.85 million (Rs.8.5 crore), which the state government Sunday announced it would return.
"The government also stated that it will not initiate proceedings of allotting the land to anyone else or initiate any construction work on the same," Khan added.