The Congress has decided to go on an all out offensive against the Mayawati government, with party workers fighting pitched battles with the police across the state, to protest the arrest of their leader Rahul Gandhi in Greater Noida on Wednesday night.
Congress workers feel that their association with the cause of farmers would generate a lot of goodwill for the party and help them in achieving Rahul Gandhi’s Mission UP 2012. Consequently, charged up party workers ended up in a number of street clashes on Thursday.
The police resorted to lathi charges on agitating party workers in a number of places, while workers courted arrest to protest Rahul’s arrest and express their anguish against the Mayawati government.
Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) president Rita Bahuguna Joshi was among those who sustained minor injuries in the police lathi charge at the Bapu Bhawan crossing on the Vidhan Sabha Marg in Lucknow.
High drama was witnessed when Congress workers assembled at the crossing and blocked the movement of traffic at about 11 AM. Joshi, along with nearly 400 Congress workers was taken to the police lines that the party leaders said had been converted into a make shift jail.
“It’s going to be a long drawn battle. Agitations will continue till the farmers’ demands are accepted,” said Joshi, while speaking to Hindustan Times from the police lines.
“We will have to organise ourselves in a manner that serves the cause of the farmers. We will come out with a strategy by Friday to continue our fight following Rahul Gandhi’s directives to take the issue to a logical conclusion,” she said.
“Bhatta-Parsaul has become a symbol of exploitation of farmers and the fight against the Mayawati government.”
Joshi also said she would discuss the issue with the senior party leaders in New Delhi, once she was released from police custody. “They have virtually converted the police lines into a make shift jail with no one being allowed to meet the party workers,” said UPCC chief spokesman Subodh Srivastava, adding, a large number of Congress workers were injured in the Thursday’s police lathi charge.
Significantly, the issue has also brought warring party factions together to fight a common enemy; the state government.
“Different factions have come together to give a united fight,” said a senior party functionary, adding, party leaders like Pramod Tiwari and Jagdambika Pal joined the Thursday’s demonstrations. Even union ministers from the state have been asked to associate themselves with the agitating party workers, he said.
Besides Lucknow, reports of demonstrations and clashes between Congress workers and police have been received from Allahabad, Varanasi, Kanpur, Meerut and a host of other districts.
In Kanpur, the Congress workers tried to stop the Shatabdi Express and block traffic on some roads. In Meerut too, attempts were made to block movement of traffic.
Those arrested in other districts include Congress legislature party leader Pramod Tiwari (Allahabad), party MPs Jagdambika Pal (Lucknow), Kamal Kishore ‘Commando’ (Baharaich) and a few party MLAs.