Farmers’ lands ‘seized’ for Rahul’s Karnataka rally today

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Karnataka on Friday has become the subject of a raging controversy that is at the heart of the very cause he is seeking to highlight — farm distress.

Local media reports said on Thursday that Congress workers allegedly forced farmers in the Gudaguru village of Haveri district to give up their farmland for Rahul’s public meeting. Worse, the seized farmland was reportedly teeming with maize and cotton crops that were just a fortnight away from harvest.

The farmers refused to speak to Hindustan Times over phone saying they were afraid of a backlash, but they told local TV channels that local Congress workers uprooted their standing crop. They also alleged that they were not paid a single rupee as compensation.

Karnataka Congress president G Parameshwara, however, rejected the allegations saying the land on which the rally is to be held is owned by relatives of a senior party leader. He also said the crop was already harvested by the time the land was taken over. He, however, refused to comment on the TV interviews given by the affected farmers.

Quick to seize the opportunity, the BJP mocked the Congress leader saying his visit would only worsen things for the farmers. Former BJP minister Suresh Kumar described the incident as “shameful” and said the Siddaramaiah government was harassing farmers by holding Rahul’s rally on land that was “forcibly taken over”.