Lucknow: In a bid to extend its reach in rural areas ahead of Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) on Thursday announced to intensify its ongoing stir against the three central farm laws across the state starting August 1.
The farmers’ union has finalised the roadmap for wider consultations with peasants for statewide campaigns against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government over the issues of high electricity bills, pending sugarcane dues of farmers and fuel price hikes. The BKU will soon begin district-level meetings in Uttar Pradesh to highlight the problems of farmers and other issues in the country.
Addressing a press conference at UP Gate, Ghazipur border, BKU's national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said the union would start a comprehensive movement against the state government from August 1 and the focus of the campaign would be to flag high power tariff and pending sugarcane dues under the Yogi Adityanath-led administration.
"With an aim to sensitise farmers on increasing electricity rates and the pending sugarcane dues, we would tell them how 1 kilo watt of power, which costs Rs 35 per horsepower in Haryana, is charged at Rs 175 per horsepower in UP even when both the states have been ruled by the BJP government. Besides, Rs 8,500 crores in dues to the sugarcane farmers are still pending," said Tikait, seeking an explanation from the Yogi government.
The BKU, which has been protesting under Samyukta Kisan Morcha's banner against the new farm laws in Ghazipur at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border since November 2020, also questioned the government collection centres paying only Rs 1,400 per quintal of wheat to farmers at a time when the MSP of wheat was Rs 1,975 per quintal. “Now, the same thing will happen with the paddy crop. That is why we have been demanding guaranteed MSP, but the deaf and dumb government is not paying heed,” he said.
Tikait further said a major meeting of the Mandal-level (zonal-level) committees of BKU is scheduled on July 11 to discuss the strategy for the campaign. "'The campaign would begin from August 1 in each district spread across 18 Mandals in the state," he said during a press conference.
Tikait said that farmers would teach the ruling BJP a lesson by ensuring its defeat in the Assembly elections like they did in the West Bengal polls earlier this year.
Echoing similar views, the general secretary of BKU, Yudhveer Singh said, “The increased cost of electricity was a double whammy for farmers. First, they are being exploited because of high power rates and second, they are forced to increase the power of their motor (used for watering farms), thereby, increasing the financial burden on farmers.” He said there were several issues plaguing the state of UP and those needed to be taken up and highlighted.
“There are Rs 8,500 crore of sugarcane dues pending with the UP government. Their promise to solve this issue during the 2017 Assembly elections was only a gimmick. The BKU claimed that they will expose the ruling BJP and its hoax promises and bring the real face of the Yogi government before the public from August 1 by organising a massive movement in the state.
Dharmendra Malik, BKU’s media-in-charge, highlighted the death of farmers due to the COVID-19 pandemic and demanded monetary compensation to the victims’ family members.
“Time duration of power supply in rural areas has been reduced from 18 hours to 12-16 hours in the state while the tariff increased. Also, the government must provide farmers with accidental insurance,” said Malik.
He said that during farmers’ protests in the state, the union will also highlight irregularities in the implementation of schemes meant to benefit the farmers.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, the BKU held a protest across the state against skyrocketing fuel prices, which farmers claim to be adversely affecting them. However, in a series of movements, a section of farmers from Shamli took out a ‘tractor march’ towards the Singhu border and they would reach there on July 10 under the leadership of BKU’s Gaurav Tikait.