Rae Bareli (Uttar Pradesh), Oct 14 (IANS) It's unusual for Rae Bareli to see glum faces when Congress chief Sonia Gandhi comes calling, but that was how it was Tuesday when resentment against the government for nixing a rail coach factory in the area brimmed over.
A day after their MP called off her public rally and religious ceremony for the factory, crowds gathered in Lalganj town, about 20 km from here, only to helplessly watch masons pulling down the infrastructure laid out for the 'bhoomi pujan'. The factory, for which the railways had acquired land after paying compensation of Rs.85 million (Rs.8.5 crore), would have landed jobs to over 50,000 people.
On Saturday night, the Uttar Pradesh government had taken back the 400 acres it had allotted to the Indian Railways for the project. The Mayawati led government also announced that it would return the compensation money to the railways.
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court Monday ordered status quo on the land while hearing a writ petition by the Northern Railway (NR) and a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by locals in the area.
'Mayawati has taken her political revenge because she could not defeat the Congress during the confidence vote in parliament (over the India-US nuclear deal) and this is why her government withdrew the land allotted for the factory,' said Krishna Bahadur Singh, a farmer from Dedani village in the area.
As the political divide between the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) deepened, an overwhelming majority of the people here said the move meant an end to their dreams.
'I was expecting to get a job in the rail factory but Chief Minister Mayawati has derailed my dream. Look at the way she is forcing the central government to wrap up the coach factory plans,' said Raj Kumar Singh, an unemployed youngster whose father works as a waiter in a train.
Asked what were they doing at the coach factory site when the religious ceremony to kick off its construction had been stalled, Ramu Gupta, a local from Lalganj, added in a matter of fact tone: 'I am watching workers wrap up the paraphernalia for the function and seeing how so many people lose opportunities because of scheming petty politicians.'
People in the constituency were visibly angry at seeing the project being stalled for what they said was nothing but political expediency.
'Mayawati has already taken money for the land, some Rs.9 crore (Rs.90 million), and overnight she decided to withdraw the land allotment; why is she doing this?' asked Rajkumar.
'Not just Rae Bareli, youngsters from several districts like Sultanpur, Fatehpur, Banda, Unnao, Pratapgarrh, Amethi and other neighbouring districts would have found jobs because of this factory. Technical hands from neighbouring states could have also had employment opportunities,' said Krishna Bahadur.
Gandhi did land early afternoon in her constituency, but only to attend a function to inspect the Lifeline Express Train, a health camp on wheels run by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation to look after the health needs of people in her constituency, at the Lalganj station.