Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati will hold direct talks with farmers here on Thursday in a bid to check growing discontent against her government over land acquisition ahead of next year’s assembly polls.
More than 200 farmers from across the state have been invited to the ‘kisan panchayat’, or farmer council, to resolve issues that led to last month’s violent protests at Bhatta and Parsaul villages in Greater Noida.
“Discussion on issues related to land acquisition will be the main agenda of the kisan panchayat,” a government spokesperson said. “Problems related to power supply, availability of seeds and fertilisers, and procurement of wheat may also be discussed.”
Farmers have been agitating for more compensation for land acquired by the state. Four persons, including two policemen, were killed during the protests, while some were injured.
The issue snowballed when Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi visited some villages and claimed that the state was persecuting farmers unwilling to part with their land.
The Congress and Trinamool Congress defeated the 34-year-old Left Front government in West Bengal last month, campaigning mainly against the state’s land acquisition policy.
Mayawati, who faces elections in 2012, is likely to make some conciliatory gestures towards the farmers in Tuesday’s meeting, sources said.
The farmers’ delegation to the meeting will be led by Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait.
“We will meet Mayawati after discussing issues with cabinet secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh tomorrow (Thursday). A memorandum of demands has been prepared,” Tikait said.
“The UPA government at the Centre announced a loan-waiver of R72,000 crore and
other welfare schemes for farmers. If the ruling BSP implements our demands and redresses our grievances, we will support it in the coming elections,” he said.
Mayawati sent ministers and officials to persuade farmers to participate in the meeting after facing flak from opposition parties for an anti-farmer attitude.
Agriculture minister Laxmi Narain met farmers in Greater Noida and said their demands would be heard in Lucknow.