While the Centre has maintained that it’s ready to make changes to the contentious farm laws, it has ruled out repealing the laws which have been put on hold by the Supreme Court.
Ahead of Uttar Pradesh Election 2022, the BJP has chalked out a two-pronged approach to retain power in the state which is not only sensitive with respect to farmers but also due to the second wave of COVID-19 which hit the state hard. While the opposition has been raising the issues to keep the COVID-19 wounds alive, the protest by farmer unions has continued unabated at the Delhi-UP border for around 9 months now. While the Centre has maintained that it’s ready to make changes to the contentious farm laws, it has ruled out repealing the laws which have been put on hold by the Supreme Court. Seeing no end to the logjam, the BJP is now trying to mitigate the challenges.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently inducted 7 ministers from Uttar Pradesh in his cabinet keeping in mind caste as well as regional representation in mind, the ministers were also asked by the party high-command to carry out ‘Jan Ashirwad Yatra’ in a move to reach out to people and mitigate the COVID-19 wounds to an extent. The ministers not only reached out to the people but also made them aware of the various initiatives taken by the Modi government during the second wave of COVID-19 in an effort to counter the narrative set by the opposition. The ministers covered a distance of more than 3500 kilometres crisscrossing about three dozen Lok Sabha constituencies and more than 120 assembly constituencies of the state. During the yatra, they held various public meetings as well. The yatra was not only aimed at connecting with people but also boosting the morale of workers who were hesitant in going out in public after the second wave of Covid-19. This also set the platform for assembly as well as the Lok Sabha elections 2024.
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In another move to counter the farmers’ protest, the party has planned a statewide farmer outreach program especially keeping in mind the impact of ongoing protests. Multiple news reports have said that the BJP will undertake a statewide ‘Kisan Sampark Yatra’ under which ‘kisan chaupals’ will also be organised. The BJP’s Kisan Morcha has been actively working on the agenda. Also, PM Modi had released the 9th instalment of Kisan Samman Nidhi on 9th August. It may be recalled that Uttar Pradesh is one of the biggest beneficiary states of the scheme. Around 36 lakh farmers of Uttar Pradesh had received Rs 2,000 each as part of the 9th instalment of Kisan Samman Nidhi this month. During the outreach programme, the saffron party also plans to promote steps taken by the central government for the benefit of the farmers. Last week, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, while speaking in the UP Assembly had informed that over Rs one lakh crore was paid to farmers towards sugarcane arrears in the last four years. Thus, both the state and the central leadership are working to send out positive signals to the farming community.
With only 7 months to go for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, the BJP has very limited time to turn the tide in its favour. However, it faces a stiff challenge in wake of resistance from the farmers’ unions and a buoyant opposition – the Samajwadi Party and the Congress.