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Political leaders claim to be pro-farmer

Staff Correspondent

MANGALORE: The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal (Secular) expressed their opposition to the 2,035-acre Phase II of the Mangalore Special Economic Zone project, even as the Congress appeared to be uncertain about it during an interaction with the people.

The spokespersons of the three parties shared the same dais here on Sunday during a pre-poll programme organised by a non-governmental urganisation, Nagarika Seva Trust (NST) of Guruvayankere. The NST had asked the politicians to respond to a 32-point “manifesto of the people”. BJP spokesman Ullal Rathnakar Nayak said the multi-crore project would wreak havoc on the livelihood of the farming community and imperil the ecology of the region.

Congress spokesman Shahul Hameed said: “We are against forcible acquisition of land from farmers. If it can be proved that such acquisition is happening, we will join the protests.” The Congress was against the proposed 300-sq. km. Petroleum Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region project in the region, he added.

Balraj Rai of the Janata Dal (Secular) joined his BJP counterpart in saying that his was a “pro-farmer” political party. The project would displace several hundred families that were linked with agriculture. “We are firmly behind those agitating for scrapping the project,” he said.

The Congress said that it was committed to combating the growth of communalism in the region. Varadesh Hiregange, a teacher, who was the moderator of the event, drew the attention of the politicians to the global economic crisis.

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