By Shashi Bhushan
New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) Fearing that the ongoing farmers’ agitation will adversely affect the party in 40 Lok Sabha seats spread across Western Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan, the top BJP leadership has gone into a hurdle to find a way out to reach out to the Jat community predominant in these regions.
The BJP leadership has realised that the Jat community is one of the most active participants in ongoing farmers’ agitation against the three Central farm laws, insiders in the saffron party told IANS.
Anticipating that the Jats may drift away from the party, the BJP top leadership called a high-level meeting on Tuesday in which Union Home Minister Amit Shah was also present along with MPs, MLAs and leaders from Western Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeeb Balyan, a Jat leader from Western Uttar Pradesh, were also present in the meeting held at the party headquarters in New Delhi.
Amid the rise of Bharatiya Kisan Union’s (BKU) Rakesh Tikait, a Jat kisan leader who has become the face of the ongoing farmers’ agitation against the Central farm laws, the BJP feels that the community which voted in favour of the party in the previous Lok Sabha polls in 2019 may go against it in the coming elections, most importantly in Uttar Pradesh in 2022.
“The BJP knows that the fate of all the Lok Sabha seats in Haryana, Rajasthan and Western Uttar Pradesh is decided by the Jat community, which is crucial for the formation of the government at the Centre,” said a party insider.
“After January 26, the dynamics of the farmers’ agitation has changed with Rakesh Tikait emerging as the face of the agitation, overshadowing the farmer leaders from different unions in Punjab,” said a BJP leader.
“There is a strong feeling among the Jat community that the BJP government is against them despite their whole-hearted support in the 2019 general elections and the 2017 UP Assembly polls,” said Jat leader belonging to the BJP.
A section of the BJP leadership believes that local political factors have taken over the farmers issue, including the role of the Jat community in the agitation.
“The concern of Jats in Western Uttar Pradesh is different from the Jats in Haryana, which is not addressed by the BJP leadership,” he said.
A BJP leader said that the Jats in Western UP are emotionally attached to the legacy of Mahender Singh Tikait and believes that his son Rakesh Tikait is following in his father’s footsteps.
But the Jats in Haryana have different concerns, including political leadership roles in the state.
“Jats in Haryana are unhappy with the BJP central leadership’s decision to appoint Manohar Lal Khattar, a non Jat, as the Chief Minister of state, but no one paid any attention to the concerns of the community. Now in the name of farmers’ agitation, they (Jats) are venting out their anger using the ongoing protest as a platform,” said a BJP leader.
Amid the concerns and the party’s plan to reach out to the farmers, especially the Jats, Union minister Sanjeev Balyan has put up a brave face, saying there are no immediate polls and the party is thinking only about the farmers’ concerns.
Farmers from different states, particularly from Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting on the borders of the national capital for nearly three months now, demanding that the three Central farm laws be repealed and legal guarantee for MSP on their produce be ensured.
Rakesh Tikait is leading the farmers’ protest at the Ghazipur border, which is one the epicentres of the ongoing agaitation along with Tikri and Singhu border where leaders from farmers’ union in Punjab have been blocking the highways for nearly three months now.
By Shashi Bhushan