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Rahul Gandhi arrested for UP land protest

Agitation seen as test of Congress scion's populist credentials

Rahul Gandhi, general secretary of India's Congress Party and scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, was arrested by Uttar Pradesh police late Wednesday while agitating against the application of eminent domain laws to acquire land from farmers in Greater Noida, Mint reports.

All India Congress Committee General Secretary Rahul Gandhi waves to the crowd during an election rally. (DIPTENDU DUTTA - AFP/Getty Images).

Another round of sparring between Gandhi and UP's chief minister, the Bahujan Samaj Party's Mayawati, the agitation and arrest are being seen here as a test of Gandhi's ability to leverage his princely status to build a mass agitation for political change. Previously, Gandhi has courted Mayawati's Dalit community by meeting and taking meals with members of the historically oppressed caste in their homes.  But this is arguably the first time that he's gone beyond symbolic moves to try to build mass momentum.

For more about Gandhi's slow progress toward a run for the prime minister's post, read my profile on him here.

Mint quoted Inspector General of Police (Meerut Range) Rajnikant Mishra as saying, “Rahul Gandhi has been arrested under Sec 151 CrPC and will be presented before a Sub-Divisional Magistrate tomorrow (on Thursday)."

Gandhi’s arrest was marked by high drama as a huge posse of UP police descended on the village as the Congress leader prepared to spend the night at a farmer’s home, the paper said

Background from AFP:

Two policemen and a farmer were killed at the weekend near a suburb of Noida in violent protests against acquisition of farmland designated for the new motorway.
The Uttar Pradesh state government said the farmers had been given generous compensation.

But the farmers claim they were paid only 800 rupees (18 dollars) a square metre for the land which was then sold to property developers for 3,200 rupees.

The developers are now offering residential plots for 14,000 rupees a square metre, NDTV television reported on its website.
Land acquisition for roads, factories or other development is a controversial issue across India, with violence often erupting between farmers and police..

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/bric-yard/rahul-gandhi-arrested-land-protest