Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s planned visit to Hajipur, 25 km from Patna, on March 12 hit a roadblock as farmers turned down the administration’s request to clear their standing crop to host a rally.
The Prime Minister was to visit Hajipur, the headquarters of the East Central Railway (ECR) Zone, to inaugurate new railway projects, but farmers in Sultanpur, adjacent to the Hajipur industrial estate, refused to clear about 60 acres of their land for the rally, despite ECR’s offer of compensation.
“We are not ready to cut down our crops even if we are paid five times compensation over its price,” said Raja Ram Rai, one of the farmers who demonstrated against the administration on Friday.
Vaishali district magistrate Rachna Patil, who convened a meeting on Thursday night with a farmers’ delegation, said on Friday that she had tried to negotiate compensation, but the talks were not conclusive.
As a result, an alternative venue was chosen in Terasia village, next to the Mahatma Gandhi Setu — which connects Patna to Hajipur over the Ganga, said chief PRO of ECR Arvind Kumar Rajak.
Sultanpur, the district headquarters of Vaishali, was finalised after a proposal to host the rally adjacent to Vaishali Police Lines was ruled out over fears of villagers harbouring Maoists in the area.
At a meeting on Wednesday between ECR general manager AK Mittal and chief secretary Anjani Kumar Singh, it was decided that over 12 farmers who would lose their crop would be compensated. However, repeated attempts to convince the farmers — first by sub-divisional officer of Hajipur, Ravindra Kumar, and then by Nityanand Rai, BJP MP of Ujiarpur — failed.
Locals, however, said most farmers were RJD supporters and their resistance was politically motivated.
Modi, who will also participate in the concluding function of the Patna high court’s centenary celebrations on March 12, will dedicate a 5 km-long rail-cum-road bridge over the Ganga between Digha in Patna and Sonepur in north Bihar during his visit. In addition, he will lay the foundation stone for a railway bridge at Mokamah, some 100 km east of Patna, and flag off an inaugural train over a third rail bridge at Munger.