A major crisis is brewing in India's largest and politically important state of Uttar Pradesh, with assembly polls barely a few months away.
The crisis stems from the violence that broke out in the northern Indian state's Lakhimpur Kheri district on Sunday after a federal Minister's motorcade ploughed into some farmers protesting agricultural reforms that they fear could hurt their livelihoods.
While four of the protesters were killed after being run over by a car allegedly driven by junior Indian home minister Ajay Mishra's son Ashish, four others died in the clashes that followed. The farmers were attempting to prevent the Minister from visiting the district.
To pacify the protesters, Uttar Pradesh Police on Monday booked the Minister's son for murder while the state government promised to pay a compensation of Indian rupees 45 lakh to the families of the deceased amd Indian rupees 10 lakh to each of the injured.
The federal Minister has, however, denied that his son was present on the spot. "There were miscreants who had attacked workers with sticks and swords. The farmers died when a car in my convoy overturned."
However, India's opposition parties supporting the farmers' agitation have already managed to cash in on the crisis.
Congress leader Sonia Gandhi's daughter Priyanka courted arrest in the early hours of the day after she was prevented from going to the district. She alleged she was manhandled by the cops, in a video released by her supporters.
Politicians from other opposition parties have also been stopped from visiting the families of the victims.
State's main opposition Samajwadi Party's leader, Akhilesh Yadav, claimed he was not allowed to leave his residence in Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow. "Farmers, who are the backbone of our economy, cannot be treated like this."
"Their fears are legitimate about private players hurting their income and they should be heard. We need to strengthen our farming systems and not weaken them," the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh added.
Sunday's violence in Lakhimpur Kheri is just an aggressive manifestation of the nearly year-long protest by tens of thousands of farmers who have been camping on the outskirts of the national capital in protest against three contentious agricultural laws.
While the Indian government has said that the reforms will help farmers get better prices by allowing them to sell their produce at markets and prices of their choice, the protesters fear the laws will favour private players at their expense.
Experts say the violence clearly shows that things are gradually going out of control of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which also governs the state of Uttar Pradesh.
"It is said that the road to Delhi passes through Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh. And the party that wins the majority of seats in assembly polls in the state stands a fair chance to form the federal government," said Prof RK Sinha, a retired Delhi University professor.
"It's high time that the government pacified the farmers, who make up 60 percent of India's population," he added.