Greater Noida: Signalling a stepped-up campaign against the Mayawati government ahead of the Assembly polls next year, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday embarked on a yatra from Greater Noida to Agra to talk to those farmers whose land has been acquired for the Taj Expressway.

Rahul arrived at Bhatta-Parsaul village in Greater Noida, the epicentre of protests by farmers in May over acquisition of their land, at 6.30 am on Tuesday and after talking to farmers he moved to the next village Achepur, then onto Rustampur and ahead.
Gandhi told farmers in the area that "land acquisition is taking place from here to Agra" and he wanted to understand for himself what were the issues facing them.

"I have started this yatra. I have started it from Bhatta and will go to all villages and will ascertain your views on the new land acquisition policy of the Uttar Pradesh government," he said.

The Congress general secretary later told reporters that he would raise issues troubling farmers during his march in Uttar Pradesh and alleged that the state police was committing excesses on farmers.

Although his aides have not yet revealed the details about the yatra but he is expected to meet famers all along the route to Agra.

Rahul had visited Bhatta-Parsaul on May 11 earlier during the protests by the farmers against land acquisition and had promised to stand by them. Gandhi had visited Tappal in Aligarh last year in support of farmers making a similar demand.

Importantly, Rahul Gandhi will address a Kisan Mahapanchyat in Aligarh on July 9 to raise the issues of farmers including land acquisition.

The party had earlier planned to hold the rally in Bhatta-Parsaul but had to shift the venue to Aligarh as it was denied permission by the state government.

Clearly, the Congress hopes that the rally will raise the pitch of party's battle for the ouster of Mayawati government and contribute to its effort to project itself as the only viable alternative in Uttar Pradesh.

The grand old party has set the goal of coming back to power in the state in the next Assembly polls and it has been making efforts to emerge as the most credible voice of Opposition.

(JPN/agency)