With govt’s pro-farmer image under fire, BJP wants amicable end to farm protests
The Bharatiya Janata Party leadership is pushing for an early, amicable resolution to the farmers’ protest as the ongoing agitation threatens to derail the party’s expansion plans in Punjab, and weakens the Union government’s “pro-farmer image”, said people aware of the details.
Even as the meeting between the government and the farmers’ representatives remained inconclusive on Tuesday, BJP functionaries remained optimistic that the logjam will be resolved. The next round of talks between the government and the farmers’ representatives will now be held on Thursday.
A senior party functionary, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement on Monday that the laws are beneficial for the farmers is an indication that the government is ready to address their concerns. But a rollback may not be on the cards, the functionary added.
“The genuine grievances of the farmers will be addressed. They have concerns over some aspects such as whether the government will continue providing MSP (Minimum Support Price). We are ready to answer those concerns. The demand for a rollback is based on rumours and fear stoked by the opposition,” the functionary said.
On Tuesday, Union ministers Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and Piyush Goyal attended a meeting over the farmers’ protest at BJP chief, JP Nadda‘s residence.
The party has also stepped up efforts to reach out to farmers’ groups, sending out senior functionaries to set the “record straight”. “From ministers to MPs to functionaries at the block level, everyone will act as an emissary of the government and clear the misconception of the farmers,” said a second functionary.
To ensure that its pro-farmer image is not tarnished, the party is reiterating the measures taken to improve the lot of the farmers. “It was the BJP government that announced schemes such as soil health cards, facilities for micro irrigation, irrigation in every field, 95% of the Swaminathan report has been implemented, farmers are getting cash benefits from the Kisan Saman Nidhi. But the opposition has created fear that the government will not support MSP,” the second functionary said.
Party leaders have also been pointing out that the protests being limited to Punjab and parts of Haryana is proof of the Congress misleading farmers. “Farmers elsewhere have understood how small and marginal farmers stand to gain from the new laws. It is only in Punjab where the Congress government has created fear in their minds. In states such as MP, UP and Gujarat farmers have faith in the Modi government,” the second functionary said.
The political ramifications of the protest are another area that has the party worried. After the Shiromani Akali Dal ended its alliance with the BJP over the new farm laws, the saffron party has been trying to expand its footprint in the state. “There is a vote bank that is neither Akali nor supports the Congress; these are non Panthak voters who the party can count on for support,” said a third functionary.
The BJP has already begun preparations for the 2022 Punjab assembly polls that it plans to contest on its own. It has deployed its cadre to undertake a membership drive at the booth-level and set up party offices.
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- Before Ering entered politics in 1989, he served as a teacher for five years in Mirbuk and Miren schools in Arunachal Pradesh.
- The protests against the farm laws at Delhi's border has entered its eighth week.