Farmers have slowly been emerging as a formidable force. The gathering of over a lakh of farmers at Muzaffarnagar Mahapanchayat held on September 5 has not only given a clear indication of their gaining strength during the last nine months of their agitation against Modi govt’s three farm laws, but has also set in motion an apparent political twist in Uttar Pradesh, which is going to polls within a few months in early 2022, and hence the ‘Mission 2022’.
Lakhs of farmers streamed into Muzaffarnagar on Sunday for the Samyukt Kisan Morcha’s largest mahapanchayat so far to hear Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait declare his determination to oust the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh next year by tapping into rural anger and uniting farmers and workers across religion and caste.
Mr. Tikait, who was welcomed to the stage with a wave of sound and a traditional trumpet fanfare, vowed to continue the farmers’ protest till Yogi Adityanath is overthrown though he was ambivalent about contesting the election himself.
During his speech, Mr. Tikait called out both “Allahu Akbar” and “Har Har Mahadev”.
His huge audience echoed his chants that rang across this western U.P. town, the site of brutal communal riots just eight years ago.
There are 77 Vidhan Sabha seats in Western Uttar Pradesh alone. The region has 22 Lok Sabha seats.
“We voted for the BJP in 2019 because it promised us MSP rates that would make farming profitable.
But [Prime Minister Narendra] Modiji only lied to us. What is the point of declaring MSP if there are no mandis to sell to the government and the private trader refuses to buy at that rate?” said Veer Singh, a farmer from Meerut who said he had sold his paddy crop at prices 22% below the announced MSP rate this year.
Parkash, a farmer from the Charkhi Dadri tehsil in Haryana, noted that even as farm profits fell, input costs for everything from diesel to electricity to urea had risen.
“It is not only for farmers, even the price of cooking oil, of a gas cylinder have all surged under the Modi government. He is only looking to help his corporate friends, not the common farmers who voted for him,” he added.
This region is dominated by farmers’ politics, and hence it holds the key to power not only in Lucknow, but also New Delhi. The Muzaffarnagar Mahapanchayat of farmers has therefore acquired special political importance.
It should also be kept in mind that BJP’s influence in the state has been witnessing a sharp fall. After its spectacular victory in 2017 Vidhan Sabha election, its tally in the Lok Sabha has reduced from 73 in 2014 to 62 in 2019 election.
While the district administration estimated a gathering of over one lakh farmers at the event, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) claimed a gathering of about 10 lakh for the historic meeting, who would return only to campaign against the BJP in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, which they have called “Mission UP and Uttarakhand”. Farmers from Punjab have added “Mission Punjab”.
One of the special features of the gathering was its non-communal nature as against the BJP’s communal politics of polarization. Farmers have even pushed caste politics in the state behind.
They were seen united irrespective of their religions and castes. It makes the Muzaffarnagar Mahapanchayat a historic moment that may prove a turning point in the political landscape of the country.