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UP Elections: Akhilesh Yadav Woos Farmers, Promises to Ensure MSP for all Crops, Free Irrigation

Akhilesh Yadav made new promises to the agrarian community a month after promising free electricity for irrigation and 300 units of free electricity to each domestic household.
Akhilesh Yadav

Lucknow: With Assembly elections around the corner in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh, especially in the backdrop of the just-concluded farmers' agitation, Samajwadi Party chief and Akhilesh Yadav on Monday made several promises to the state's farmers.

Yadav has promised a minimum support price (MSP) for every crop, free irrigation facilities, payment of arrears to cane-growers in 15 days, interest-free loans, and insurance and pension, among other things. Yadav also said that cases lodged against farmers during their agitation against the now-repealed farm laws would be withdrawn, and the families of farmers who died during the prolonged protest would be given Rs 25 lakh compensation if his party comes to power.

This comes a month after the SP chief had promised free electricity for irrigation and 300 units of free electricity to each domestic household.

To woo the peasants, who are the majority of voters in western UP and constitute the majority of the protesting farmer community, the SP supremo said all his promises would be part of the party's election manifesto for the Assembly elections.

He said a special 'Farmers Revolving Fund' would be created, if needed, to ensure the payment of arrears to sugarcane farmers within 15 days.

"Even if we have to create a farmers' revolving fund, we will do it so that the payment to the farmers does not stop," Yadav said.

Along with farm leader Tajinder Virk, who was injured in the October 3 incident in Lakhimpur Kheri when a convoy of cars ran over protesting farmers, Yadav pledged to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the coming election.

"We take this anna sankalp [pledge on grains] that we will defeat and remove the BJP which has carried out atrocities and injustice against the farmers," said Virk, extending his support to Yadav and appealing to all farmers to defeat the BJP.

The first phase of voting is slated to be held on February 10 in western Uttar Pradesh, where most farmers took part in the protests at the Ghazipur border against the central farm laws. Rakesh Tikait, one of the prominent faces of the year-long protest and leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, comes from this region.

While outlining his party's strategy for farmers, the SP head did not miss a chance to criticise the BJP, accusing it of ignoring farmers during its tenure.

"In its 2017 election agenda, the BJP vowed to triple farmers' income. Is it now complete? " he asked.

The former chief minister claimed the Lakhimpur Kheri tragedy, in which four farmers were killed by a four-wheeler in October last year, was even worse than the tragic Jallianwala Bagh case during the British rule.

"In the Jallianwala Bagh case, Britishers shot innocent individuals in the chest, but in the Lakhimpur Kheri event, innocent farmers going home were crushed under the wheels of the car," he explained.

However, the condition of farmers under the "double engine" government is "exposing all lies" of the government. Uttar Pradesh recorded nearly dozens of debt-ridden suicide of farmers due to the high hardness of the administration. Similarly, thousands of farmers were slapped with serious charges under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for stubble burning.

Meanwhile, the atrocities against farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri where at least four of them were killed by an SUV belonging to MoS Ajay Mishra are also fresh in people's mind.

The farmers' unions also accused the Yogi Adityanath government of raking up the Ram temple issue to divert people's attention from the "rural distress" on multiple occasions. Further, the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, the joint forum of farmers' bodies, which led the farmers' protest at Delhi borders, has also warned the Centre that if their pending demands, including MSP for all crops, were not fulfilled by January 31, the organisation would urge people to not vote for the BJP in UP.

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