Lucknow: While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) high command has been pushing its leaders to reach out to Khap heads in western Uttar Pradesh in a bid to break an ongoing deadlock, the latter’s efforts were met with massive resistance by the former’s leadership, which is ardently against the Farm Laws, on Sunday. Baba Surajmal Chaudhary, the head of the Battisa Khap in Bhainswal village of Shamli district, turned down the offer of a meeting with Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan.
Balyan, the MP from Muzaffarnagar, was visiting the village where the headquarters of the Khap is located. As word got around that the MP would be visiting the village a large group of farmers gathered and started shouting slogans against Balyan. “Sanjeev Balyan Murdabadad, Kisan Ekta Zindabad...Baliyan go back and don’t return till your government withdraws the Farm Laws,” were some of the slogans that welcomed the BJP leaders, forcing them to flee.
“A group of BJP MLAs and MPs led by Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan landed up at my residence without any invitation late at night but we rejected their proposal,” said Surajmal Chaudhary, the 60-year-old who has been actively promoting mahapanchayats in his region against the contentious laws.
“They had come to talk to the Khap leaders about the ‘benefits’ of the new laws but I told them that nothing would come out of their meeting. Either Balyan should resign from his post of union minister to ensure the support by Khaps or approach the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) which is representing the voices of farmers at the borders,” he told Newsclick, adding that BJP leaders were looking for a “photo-op” with influential Khap or gotra leaders to earn some brownie points with their higher-ups and project that the Khaps were not united in their fight against the farm laws.
Gajendra Ahlawat, head of the Ahlawat Khap, who also refused to entertain Balyan, said that he did not want to meet BJP leaders but that they landed up at his place. “Nearly three months have passed since farmers have been camping at the borders against the laws and challenging BJP leaders to persuade them; (over the laws) we are not children waiting to be told about the benefits of the laws. They should talk to the Samyukt Kisan Morcha," Ahlawat told Newsclick, adding that if BJP leaders were not able to put their demands before the government, they must resign from their posts. “Since we have boycotted BJP leaders they should not conduct such events till the ongoing farmer agitation persists,” he added.
Last week, BKU president Naresh Tikait had warned farmers’ leaders at a panchayat in Muzaffarnagar that they should refrain from inviting BJP leaders to weddings and family gatherings and that if anyone was found doing so, they would have to feed 200 people as punishment or face a social boycott.
Similarly, the outfit’s national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait called for the boycott of BJP leaders in western Uttar Pradesh till the Farm Laws were not repealed.
On Sunday, Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan along with state minister Bhupendra Chaudhary, MLAs Tejendra Nirwal and Umesh Malik and the BJP’s western UP president Mohit Beniwal went to the villages to convince the agitating farmers about the supposed benefits of the three laws. However, they encountered their ire.
Dalit activist Sushil Gautam, who has been touring western Uttar Pradesh ever since the farmers' protests began, said he felt a growing resentment among people against the BJP over the Farm Laws and it would have repercussions for the upcoming assembly elections in the state in 2022. “The BJP has been particularly concerned after the farmers’ protests intensified in western Uttar Pradesh since the state votes early next year. Aside from the farmers, political parties like the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Congress are now organising farmer mahapanchayats which are drawing huge crowds while also giving sleepless nights to the ruling party,” Gautam told Newsclick.
A series of farmer 'mahapanchayats' in western Uttar Pradesh continue to unfold in a massive outpouring of support. After the first mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar at least four such congregations took place in the sugarcane belt including at Baghpat, Mathura, and Shamli, all of which witnessed a massive turnout. An emotional appeal by Tikait and the mahapanchayats organised by the BKU has enlivened the farmers agitation.
Farmers from the Jat community seemed to be throwing their weight behind Tikait after his emotional outburst in front of the cameras where he lashed out at the ruling party and appealed to farmers to not give up.
As part of their mobilisation, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) has now announced its first-ever farmers’ mahapanchayat on February 24 in eastern UP's Barabanki.
FARMERS DESTROY STANDING CROPS
A farmer in western Uttar Pradesh destroyed his standing crop in protest against the three Farm Laws.
Sohit Kumar, a farmer from Kulchana village in Chandpur tehsil of Bijnor district had cultivated his six bighas of farmland by himself. When the crop was ready for harvest, the angry farmer was seen driving a tractor from one corner of the plantation to the other until the crop was destroyed. He said that he was forced to destroy his standing wheat crop over six bighas since the Narendra Modi-led central government was not ready to hear out farmers.
Following suit, another farmer, identified as Tony, ploughed his four bigha wheat crop using a tractor at Telipura village in Bijnor on Sunday after Tikait’s statement where he appealed to the farmers to be ready to sacrifice their standing crop.