Enthused by the success of the Kisan Mahapanchayat held under the banner of Samkyut Kisan Morcha (SKM) in Muzaffarnagar on Sunday, the farmers of western Uttar Pradesh have decided to oppose Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders travelling to their constituencies ahead of the 2022 Assembly elections.
Inspired by the strategy of their counterparts in Punjab and Haryana, the farmers of western UP will block roads leading to venues of BJP leaders’ election speeches or events and demand from the Centre to support the farmers’ movement and withdraw the three agricultural laws. BJP leaders who do not agree to their demands will be barred from entering their venues. Farmers will also show black flags to BJP leaders during their speeches and events.
Though the plan could be implemented on Bharat Bandh, called by the farmers on September 27, the strategy will be decided during a meeting of the SKM in Lucknow on September 9-10.
Union minister of state animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries Sanjeev Balyan, an MP from Muzaffarnagar, was recently forced to abandon a meeting with Khap leaders in Shamli district in the face of protests by farmers. Balyan and other BJP leaders, including Suresh Rana, had to beat a hasty retreat from Bhainswal village, where they were scheduled to “educate farmers about the benefits of the newly enacted farm laws”.
Farmers protesting the farm laws have also decided to free the toll plazas at multiple places after September 27 to mount pressure on the government. Private companies and factories and fuel stations are also on their radar.
The farmer leaders made it amply clear that they would campaign against the ruling BJP in the Assembly elections if their demands are not accepted. “Following the footprints of farmers in Punjab and Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh peasants will gather at several toll plazas on September 27 and allow free passage to vehicles unless the Centre accepts our demands. Demonstrations will be held at toll plazas on national highways,” an organiser requesting anonymity told Newsclick.
The farmers’ movement has so far been most effective in western UP. Now, farmers are planning to strengthen it in the districts of Purvanchal. Public meetings will be held at the village, block and district levels so that maximum number of farmers can join it. Farmer leaders from all over the country will travel to UP to address the people, Harinam Singh Verma, state vice-president, Bharatiya Kisan Union told Newsclick.
The BJP’s 2014 election campaign in UP gained momentum after the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots. But the recent bonding between Muslims and Jats during the ongoing farmers’ protests could dent the BJP vote base in the polls.