Uttar Pradesh, on
Wednesday, is voting for the fourth phase of its seven-phase Assembly election.
A total of 59 constituencies, mostly concentrated in and around central UP,
parts of the Terai region, and one district in Bundelkhand, are voting for 624
candidates in the fray. The constituencies are spread across nine districts. Of
the 59 constituencies going to polls, 16 are reserved.

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The results of the
fourth phase of elections are crucial to getting the chief minister’s seat. Since
the 1996 Assembly polls, the political party which has won a majority in this
specific set of seats has won a majority in the state legislature. In 2017, the
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 51 out of 59 seats.

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The 2022 Assembly
, however, may see different dynamics at work. At least two of the nine
districts have seen raging farmers’ protests against the three agriculture laws
that were introduced by the Union government in 2020 and revoked the next year.
The results of the fourth phase of polls, along with the first three phases which
were concentrated in western Uttar Pradesh, will show how farmers have
responded to the BJP after the laws were taken back.

The Pilbhit Lok
Sabha constituency comprises four Assembly seats, all of which are with the
BJP. However, farmers in Pilbhit, and even the BJP MP from Pilbhit – Varun Gandhi
– had spoken out against the agriculture laws. The 41-year-old BJP leader from
the Gandhi family had expressed his outrage on social media after a video went
viral of a car mowing down.

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“The video is crystal
clear. Protestors cannot be silenced through murder. There has to be
accountability for the innocent blood of farmers that has been spilled and
justice must be delivered before a message of arrogance and cruelty enters the
minds of every farmer,” Gandhi had written, sharing the video.

Hours later, a
three-time MP and a former national secretary of the saffron party, was dropped
from the BJP’s national executive.

In course of the
Assembly elections, Gandhi’s presence has been next to none. He has instead
chosen to speak on against privatisation and why capitalism shouldn’t be
promoted by creating inequality.

The video that Gandhi
had shared back then was from Lakhimpur Kheri district where eight people died
after a car mowed down those protesting the three agriculture laws. Union
Minister Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra was arrested in connection to the case
and later released on bail.

Farmers in India’s
biggest state will have an immense role to play in the fourth phase of the
elections. While they are expected to give their electoral consensus on the ballot,
it is also true that caste dynamics are also expected to play a role.

Another problem ailing
farmers is the problem of stray cattle, particularly Bundelkhand. Prime
Minister Narendra Modi said special focus will be given to deal with the stray
cattle problem while campaigning in UP a couple of days ago. One of the most
critical results of the polls, apart from electing the chief minister, will be
to assess how farmers in western UP are responding to government.