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BJP to hold parallel meeting of farmers in Lucknow on September 19

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will hold a parallel farmers’ meet in Lucknow on September 19 when the Yogi Adityanath government completes four-and-a-half years in Uttar Pradesh. The farmers’ wing of the party intends to felicitate chief minister Yogi Adityanath on the occasion.

The meeting in Lucknow is part of the BJP plan to step up the initiative to connect with those whom the party has described as “real farmers”. The move comes amid indications that the ongoing Opposition-backed farmer agitation against the Centre’s three farm reform laws will intensify ahead of the 2022 Uttar Pradesh (UP) assembly election.

BJP farmer wing chief in UP Kameshwar Singh said an estimated 20,000 farmers are expected at the Lucknow meeting.

“Fifty farmers would come from each of the 403 assembly constituencies of UP to thank the chief minister for various pro-farmer measures,” Singh said.

The BJP’s farmer-connect campaign comes days after the September 5 Muzaffarnagar Mahapanchayat that was organised by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (joint farmers’ union) and ahead of the September 27 Bharat Bandh call given by all the farmers’ union backing the agitation.

A day before the Bharat Bandh, yet another farmers’ mahapanchayat has been convened on September 26 at the same GIC ground in Muzaffarnagar where the one supported by Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) was held on September 5. BKU won’t be part of the proposed September 26 mahapanchayat which its leader Rakesh Tikait has described as one “sponsored by the government.”

The ruling BJP has sought to distinguish between the “real farmers and ones agitating for political reasons.

“Theirs is not a farmers’ agitation, it’s a political agitation,” said the state’s deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya while referring to the ongoing agitation demanding rollback of the Centre’s three farm reform laws.

The BJP has already concluded farmers’ meeting at 298 places in 95 assembly constituencies.

“We selected those assembly segments which had a substantial presence of sugarcane farmers. In these meetings, we interacted with nearly 60,000 farmers,” the UP BJP farmers’ wing chief said.

The farmers’ wing intends to felicitate 71 farmers at each district centre on September 17, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 71st birthday.

“We have so many achievements to talk about. As many as 2.50 crore farmers in UP are benefitting through the Kisan Samman Nidhi, soil health cards, crop insurance, kisan credit card, 50 per cent discount of farm equipment. These are some of the many achievements that we will talk about,” the farmers’ wing chief said.

In a major pro-farmer outreach initiative in August, chief minister Yogi Adityanath had announced cases against farmers for burning crop residue would be withdrawn and a decision would be taken to reimburse monetary penalties levied on such farmers. Also, orders were issued to not disconnect the power connections of farmers due to pending bills. However, these announcements failed to impress BKU leader Rakesh Tikait who cited his list of demands, primary of them being the withdrawal of farm laws.

“Scams have been conducted in the name of MSP (minimum support price) and there are districts where procurement has been done in the name of fake farmers. The BJP government had promised that farmers’ income would be doubled. Well, the government should ideally have declared sugarcane MSP at 650 per quintal, paddy at 3700 per quintal and wheat at 4100 per quintal,” Rakesh Tikait said.

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