Lodged in Ghaziabads Dasna Jail,Manveer Singh Tevatia the face of the farmers violent protests against Mayawati governments land acquisition policy at Bhatta-Parsaul is making his maiden bid into the electoral fray by contesting the Assembly poll from Jewar constituency in Gautam Buddha Nagar district.
Tevatia,who began his political career with Samajwadi Party in 2004,has been nominated by Nitish Kumars Janata Dal (United) to contest the election. In 2006,he contested the municipal election,but lost. For some time,he was associated with Ajit Singhs Rashtriya Lok Dal,before emerging as a farmers leader during the Tappal agitation. He is also the president of Sarv Dal Kishan Sangharsh Samiti,a farmer rights group.
Now,his wife Nutan Tevatia and supporters,most being farmers of Bhatta-Parsaul,are campaigning for his victory. Tevatias family members,who earns their livelihood from a small iron grill factory in Greater Noida,live in a rented house.
Police say that Tevatia is facing 18 criminal cases. Police had even announced reward of Rs 50,000 before he was arrested from South Delhi in July last year in connection with the violent incidents at Bhatta-Parsaul in which four persons,including two policemen,were killed.
Janata Dal (U),which could not forge an alliance with the BJP,has been backing Tevatia to the hilt. The partys national secretary general,KC Tyagi,says the cases against Tevatia were lodged after he began taking part in protests on behalf of the farmers. There was no case against him before he started to protest for farmers, he adds.
Nutan denies that her husband used the farmers protest as a springboard for his political ambitions. He is contesting the election on the request of farmers and many farmers leaders from Haryana and other states are canvassing for him, she says and then go on to accuse the state government for framing her husband in false cases.
Tevatia is pitted against Thakur Dhirendra Singh of the Congress,Bijendra Bhatti of Samajwadi Party and Ved Ram Bhati of BSP. Dhirendra Singh was the person who had invited Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi to the violence-hit villages of Bhatta and Parsaul,and arranged for the latter to get around policemen and sneak into the villages at 4 in the morning,riding pillion on a motorcycle driven by Singhs younger brother Karan Veer.
The constituency has over 2.75 lakh voters and is dominated by people mostly based on farming. In 2007,Horam Singh won the election on the BSP ticket.
Before Tevatia emerged as a farmer leader,Mathura-based farmer Ram Babu Kathelia led the agitation at Tappal in August 2010. Kathelia was arrested on August 14,2010 after the protest turned violent,leaving three farmers and a PAC personnel dead.
After Kathelia was released,he urged the farmers to accept a deal which the government offered. This did not go down well with the farmers and Tevatia emerged as their new leader. Interestingly,Katelia had also filed nomination for Mant constituency in Aligarh,but later withdrew at the last moment. I withdrew my candidature because of a financial crisis, he said.