Farm laws: Fearing backlash, BJP sets out to change ‘narrative’ in 40 Jat-dominated Lok Sabha seats

By: |
February 17, 2021 11:35 AM

Jats, who had traditionally voted for someone from their community, have lately even shunned their own leaders — Ajit Singh in Western UP and Chautalas in Haryana— to vote for the BJP.

Tikait has now started to consolidate Jats' support against the Centre by holding maha panchayats. (PTI)

Farm laws: The protracted standoff between farmers and the central government may hurt the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in about 40 jat-dominated Lok Sabha seats, a number not many would want to risk considering close contests in parliamentary elections. The BJP, too, is beginning to realise that it will have to counter the narrative slowly building against the Centre. Jats, who had traditionally voted for someone from their community, have lately even shunned their own leaders — Ajit Singh in Western UP and Chautalas in Haryana— to vote for the BJP.

However, that might change again with the farmer agitation now turning into an issue of Jat pride, and the credit for this goes to Rakesh Tikait, whose emotional appeal gave a fresh lease of life to the otherwise fading protests at three borders of Delhi. Tikait has now started to consolidate Jats’ support against the Centre by holding maha panchayats.

In the backdrop of these developments, top BJP leaders on Tuesday met leaders from Haryana, Rajasthan and Western Uttar Pradesh to chalk out plans to counter the narrative set by farm leaders and the opposition. BJP chief JP Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah met MPs, MLAs and district leaders of three states to understand the ground situation. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Balyan, who belongs to the Jat community, were also present in the meeting.

The Indian Express, citing sources, reports that Amit Shah asked party leaders to intensify their campaign to explain the benefits of the three farm laws and ensure those who are “misleading” farmers get a “fitting reply from people”. The visiting leaders, the report said, conveyed to the top BJP leadership that if the agitation continues then disaffection among Jats could affect at least 40 Lok Sabha seats.

According to the IE, local leaders have been asked to be in touch with all Khap leaders and office-bearers of BJP units in UP, Punjab and Haryana have been asked to prepare “strategies” to ensure this. Forty Lok Sabha seats where Jats are in sizable numbers are majorly spread in Western UP, Haryana and Rajasthan. In 2019, the BJP had swept Haryana and Rajasthan.

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