Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman is likely to read her budget speech in favour of farmers. With five states going to polls from February 10, the central government is expected to placate some sections of the society that are supposedly angry with it and win back others who are being wooed by rival political parties.
The year-long farmers’ protest against the three farm reform laws, which was called off in December 2021, has made an impression of the farming community turning against the BJP which has a major stake in the five states going to polls – Uttar Pradesh (UP), Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa.
Farmers, mostly from Punjab and the remaining from Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, took part in the protest, which had started on November 26, 2020.
While the BJP is in power in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa, the party is contesting in Punjab for the first time after its alliance of over two decades broke in 2020 over the contentious three farm reform laws.
Let’s take a look at why the finance minister is likely to read budget speech in favour of farmers:
In Punjab, the BJP has aligned with former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh’s newly-formed Punjab Lok Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) faction SAD (Sanyukt). The main contest is being viewed between the ruling Congress and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Meanwhile, the BJP is apprehending a major loss in western Uttar Pradesh, which saw Jat farmers taking part in the movement against agro-marketing laws in a major way.
The ruling BJP is doing everything in its command to placate the Jat farmers. The party also pressed its Jat leaders to get in touch with the various khaps who wield considerable influence on the community.
It sent feelers to Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Jayant Chaudhary to quit his alignment with Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav and join its rainbow coalition instead.
Moreover, Union home minister Amit Shah was in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh on January 29 where he sought to win back the Jats.
He said it was a land of bravehearts and, specifically mentioning the Jats, he heaped praises on Jat men for being present in the armed forces in large numbers.
Shah also referred to the dues paid to sugarcane growers. “This is a sugarcane belt. About Rs 1,48,000 crore of payment was made by the Yogi government to the sugarcane growers,” he said.
Elections for the 403 Assembly constituencies in Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases starting February 10. The polls in the State will be held on February 10, 14, 20, 23, 27 and March 3 and 7 in seven phases. The counting of votes will take place on March 10.