The Farm Protests Meanders On, What It Entails for up Elections!

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  • The ongoing demonstrations by the farmers protesting the three Agri-laws show no signs of ebbing despite concerted efforts at arriving at a middle-ground to break the deadlock. The farmer leaders are not budging an inch from their professed stand to completely repeal the laws. The Union Government has firmly held onto its position but offering to suspend the laws temporarily. As you are aware, the future of these laws is in limbo as the Supreme Court has stayed their implementation. On top of it, several public interest litigations on the matter are pending further hearings. Make no mistake, the Union Government passed the largely correct laws but without much consultation which would have ensured fewer hurdles along the way.

PC: Debayan Roy

  • As reported, huge crowds thronging the recently held Muzaffarnagar Kisan maha panchayat protesting the farm laws and the call to vote against BJP offers an entirely different dimension to the ongoing agitation. Looked from any angle, the protests are leaning towards taking a political turn what with the farmer leaders vociferously urging people to not vote for the BJP. Make no mistake, the BJP cannot and should not dismiss such calls without making efforts at comprehending the underlying discontentment as the crucial assembly elections to UP is scheduled to be held in the early months of 2022. Note that the western UP belt, the hub of the farm protests, with nearly 120 of the state’s 403 assembly seats enjoys profound political significance.
  • Some interesting facts about the region would throw light as to how impactful the western UP belt is for the BJP to return to power, which it aspires so desperately. For the uninitiated, BJP’s 2014 campaign for UP gained momentum in part after the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots involving Jats and Muslims vertically dividing the once shared socio-political alliances into two considerably benefiting the BJP. Since then, Western UP continued to provide rich pickings for BJP. Flashback to 2017 UP state polls, BJP’s non-Yadav OBC and non-Jatav SC coalition sealed a winning 43.3% vote share in the region against the party’s statewide vote share of 39.7 %. The statistics are self-explanatory insofar as the caste calculus is concerned which will play a major role indeed.

PC: Sanjay Jog

  • The moot point to ponder over here is what will be the Government’s plan of action vis-à-vis farm laws. Repealing the laws may placate rich farmer leaders but may nullify the immense political capital invested in convincing small and marginal farmers of reforms’ benefits. Note that they have not been part of the protests since no benefits of minimum support price (MSP) and subsidies accrue to them. Significantly increasing PM-Kisan payouts as pre-poll sop will make numerically larger small farmers happy but will only antagonize big farmers. Of course, giving in to pressure groups is not welcome either making way for further similar demands in the future. Besides the above, the unprecedented Covid pandemic and economic distress are potential factors as well. Interesting times ahead for the BJP as to how things will unravel in UP.