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Mulayam revels as Mayawati buckles
Polly Wilson in Lucknow | August 24, 2007 17:47 IST
The shutting of Reliance [Get Quote] Fresh stores across Uttar Pradesh by Chief Minister Mayawati and her roll-back on a new progressive farm policy has given a big boost to her key adversary and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had been passionately opposed to the move.
Yadav was so crestfallen after losing power to Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party that he has been lying low since he lost the election in May.
The first time he chose to come out of his political hibernation was when the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance group launched its retail operations in Lucknow. Besides criticising Mayawati's new farm policy aimed at throwing open contract farming in the state, he also let lose his party-supported trader organisation to protest against Reliance retail outlets.
The new farm policy had facilitated entry of big retail players like Reliance into the state's agri sector.
Even as the protests remained mild and largely in the form of a token demonstration by Samajwadi Party MP Banwari Lal Kanchal, the head of the UP Udyog Vyapar Mandal, Mayawati ordered shutting the ten Reliance Fresh stores in the state capital.
Kanchal, who was arrested for the protests on Tuesday, was reveling in the spotlight. The closure has come as a morale booster to the Samajwadi Party . "We have compelled Mayawati to withdraw her anti-farmer policy as also to close down Reliance stores that would have proved detrimental to the future of ordinary conventional fruit and vegetable vendors," Kanchal told rediff.com on Thursday.
Samajwadi Party state chief Ram Saran Das declared, "Mayawati has been busy ransacking the state but now she had to bow down before the people's anger against her policy meant to favour corporate giants at the expense of the poor farmer and humble vendors."
Mayawati, who had on August 3 hailed the new policy as a "boon for farmers of the state," told a hurriedly convened press conference on August 23, "Earlier I had ordered a survey on the impact of the new farm policy and intelligence reports submitted to me revealed that farmers were unhappy with the new policy, so we have decided to withdraw the same with immediate effect."
Interestingly, on completion of her 100 days in office on August 22, Mayawati had prominently listed the new farm policy among her "achievements." She had also described it as a "revolutionary step to save farmers from exploitation by not only middle-men, but bankers and corrupt officials."