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UP elections: ECI data indicates enthusiastic voter turnout in the farming community

Voter turnout higher in farmer-dominated areas; is this a sign of disillusionment with the regime that has failed to deliver on promises made to the agricultural community?

Vallari Sanzgiri 01 Mar 2022

Sanyukta Kisan Morcha
Image Courtesy:hindustantimes.com

Farmer umbrella body Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) continued their Mission Uttar Pradesh campaign on March 1, 2022 to decry the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) failure to deliver on promises made to and assurances given to farmers.

At a press conference in Azamgarh, SKM leaders appealed to the public to give the ruling regime a “vote ki chot” for fooling farmers. In December 2021, the Centre promised to organise a Minimum Support Price (MSP) committee, withdrawal of FIRs against protesting farmers, provide compensation to farmers among other things, even as it withdrew teh three contentious farm laws that had sparked a historic nation-wide, year-long protest by the farming community. Farmers agreed to vacate Delhi borders on the condition that these promises will be delivered upon within the next month.

Farmers also had other complaints such as failed procurement assurances, and the martyrdom of over 750 farmers during the nationwide protests, as well as failure to act swiftly to bring justice to those killed in Lakhimpur Kheri.

When the BJP failed farmers yet again, they launched a campaign to ‘punish’ the party in all state Assembly Elections. Particularly in UP, SKM talked about fake promises of subsidised electricity, doubling farmers’ incomes, procurement with interest to sugarcane farmers, move to solve the problem of stray cattle, etc. At an earlier conference in Prayagraj, farmer leaders claimed they received an enthusiastic response to their campaign from the agrarian community.

The numbers tell a story

Data sourced from the Election Commission of India’s Voter Turnout app reports enthusiastic voter turnout in farmer dominated areas. Typically a high voter turnout is associated with a wave of anti-incumbency, when people take to voting booths in large numbers to vote out incompetent leaders. For example, the voter turnout was 61.04 percent in 2017 when the BJP government came to power and defeated the Samajwadi Party.

Overall, the app says that the first phase recorded 62.43 percent voter turnout, the second phase recorded 64.66 percent turnout, the third phase recorded 62.28 percent voter turnout, the fourth phase reported 62.76 percent turnout and the fifth phase reported 58.52 percent voter turnout.

According to the SKM, the recent peasant struggle has awakened many farmers to the real issues in the country. To put this claim to the test, there is a need to look at voting behaviour in these community areas during the five phases that have concluded so far.

Phase 1

As many as 623 candidates hoped for a favourable turnout from the 2.27 crore eligible voters in the 58 constituencies of this phase on February 10. These regions were in the districts of Agra, Aligarh, Baghpat, Bulandshahr, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Hapur, Mathura, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar and Shamli.

Of these, Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut and Baghpat are the farmer dominated districts that reported a minimum of 65 percent voter turnout. Meerut reported 64.67 percent voter turnout, Baghtpat had a 64.98 percent voter turnout, Muzaffarnagar reported 66.74 percent voter turnout and Shamli had an overall voter turnout of 70.17 percent.

Of the latter, the Kairana constituency reported a whopping 75 percent voter turnout. The other two constituencies, Shamli and Thana Bhawan reported 67.58 percent and 67.86 percent respectively.

Phase 1 highest and lowest voter turnout (Farmer dominated regions)

District

Constituency (Highest)

Constituency (Lowest)

Shamli (70.17 %)

Kairana (75.01 %)

Shamli (67.58 percent)

Muzaffarnagar (66.74 %)

Khatauli (69.65 %)

Muzaffarnagar (62.59 %)

Meerut (64.67 %)

Kithore (69.46 %)

Meerut Cantt. (56.66 %)

Baghpat (64.91 %)

Baghpat (67.78 %)

Chhaprauli (62.56 %)

During this phase, SabrangIndia spoke to some Jat farmers in Shamli district. At the time, they expressed a loss of confidence in the ruling BJP after it faltered on its promises of sugarcane procurement, electricity and irrigation. A voter also talked about the persisting issue of stray cattle destroying crops – a problem that had become a state-hazard over time.

In fact, The Hindu reports that stray cattle became a menace after the 2017 elections when the BJP-led government came to power. Cattle markets, curbs in transportation of cattle, shutting down of illegal slaughter houses and cow conservation policies have allowed the proliferation of the species, resulting in a major financial loss for farmers. Over the years, SabrangIndia also reported persisting cases wherein people – often Muslims – merely transporting cattle were attacked for attacking “gau maata”.

Aside from Shamli, Muzaffarnagar’s Khatauli constituency reported the highest voter turnout so far at 69.59 percent. Baghpat also reported the highest turnout so far in Baghpat town with 67.78 percent voter, while Meerut’s Kithore constituency reported the highest turnout so far of 69.46 percent in the district.

Phase 2

On February 14, elections began along the sugarcane belt. Most of the nine districts in this phase reported higher than 60 percent voter turnout with the exception of Budaun and Shahjahanpur. 586 candidates appealed to an electorate of 2 crore people, majorly dominated by farmers.

The highest voter turnout was in the Amroha district that reported 72.27 percent voter turnout, even more than Shamli in the previous phase. Each of the four constituencies reported a turnout of 70 percent or more. Amroha was closely followed by Saharanpur district with 71. 34 percent voter turnout.

Phase 2 highest and lowest voter turnout (Farmer dominated regions)

District

Constituency (Highest)

Constituency (Lowest)

Amroha (72.27 %)

Naugawan Sadat (74.15 %)

Dhanaura (70.13 %)

Saharanpur (71.34 %)

Nakur (76.06 %)

Saharanpur Nagar (65.80 %)

Moradabad (67.32 %)

Thakurdwara (73.84 %)

Moradabad Nagar (60.61 %)

Bijnor (66.17 %)

Chandpur (68.72 %)

Bijnor (64.20 %)

Bareilly (62.48 %)

Baheri (72.47 %)

Bareilly Cantt. (51.53 %)

Prior to the second phase, a farmer Mohammad Wakar had told SabrangIndia how all parties, barring BJP, sent Muslim candidates to the Muslim-dominated region. This, according to him, causes a divide in votes that inevitably benefits the BJP. However, the pressing concerns regarding communalism are left wholly unaddressed.

Similarly, Moradabad too enjoys a large Muslim population. However, the people do not think that the government can help with livelihood. According to local farmer Ashkar Ahmad, only 40 percent of the people in his region understood the larger issues, and many farmers hesitated to join the farmer protests. They feared the police would arrest them. A day after the polling, ECI reported 67.32 percent voter turnout in Moradabad with the lowest turnout in Moradabad town – 60.61 percent.

According to media reports, Bareilly, Saharanpur, Moradabad, Amroha have more than 60 percent sugarcane farmers. These farmers have voiced grievances regarding the lack of procurement of their crops during the farmers struggle near Delhi borders. On February 14, Bareilly reported 62.48 percent voter turnout and Bijnor reported 66.17 percent voter turnout.

Phase 3

On February 20, as many as 16 districts went into election phased including many farmers from the potato belt. During the previous phase, SKM visited Jhansi district – included in this phase – to talk about farmer grievances.

It may be noted that Hathras is the same district where a girl from the Valmiki caste was allegedly sexually assaulted and killed by members of the dominant caste. The incident had shaken the entire country, especially after it was reported that the local police burned the girl’s body without the family’s permission. Protests condemning the police, administration and the accused were observed all over India.

Phase 4

On February 23, nine districts with 624 candidates began voting. This phase was again estimated to be important for farmers because the Kheri and Pilibhit districts in this phase had earlier reported instances of state aggression against farmers supporting the nationwide movement.

On October 3, 2021, Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish allegedly mowed down protesting farmers at Tikonia village. Four farmers and a local journalist died during this attack that was declared “a pre-planned conspiracy” by the Special Investigation team (SIT) looking into the matter later on. According to a local farmer who survived the incident, Kheri peasants condemned the state government for protecting the alleged accused in the case. After Ashish’s bail, the SKM and survivors questioned the rationale in allowing an alleged murderer to be out on bail within four months of the attack.

Phase 4 highest and lowest voter turnout (Farmer dominated regions)

District

Constituency (Highest)

Constituency (Lowest)

Kheri (67.79 %)

Sri nagar (71.59 %)

Lakhmipur (65.18 %)

Pilibhit (69.20 %)

Barkhera (73.17 %)

Bisalpur (66.12 %)

Moreover, Navreet Singh, the young farmer who died at the ITO in Delhi on January 26, 2021, was a part of the Bilaspur farming community in Kheri. Angered by the state’s attempt to dismiss the death as an accident, local Jat farmers said they will not vote for the ruling regime.

On the day of voting, Kheri reported 67.79 percent turnout with 65.18 percent voter turnout in Lakhimpur Kheri. Pilibhit reported 69. 20 percent voter turnout.

Phase 5

February 27 marked the latest phase of election with 12 districts going for voting. The highest number of voters were reported in Barabanki (68.64 percent voter turnout).

Phase 5 highest and lowest voter turnout (Farmer dominated regions)

District

Constituency (Highest)

Constituency (Lowest)

Prayagraj ( 54 %)

Bara (61.16 %)

Allahabad North (39.34 %)

On the day of the third phase, SKM visited Prayagraj (Allahabad) region to talk about the real worries of Prayagraj and Kaushambi farmers such as stray cattle, inflated electricity bills and halted connections, increased gas prices and mining controversies. Development projects along the Yamuna river had put Kol and other Adivasi communities’ livelihoods at risk.

These communities in Shankargarh, Koraon and Mirzapur say that most of the gram sabha land was given to the forest department. Members should have received pattas to mine gravel and convert it into agricultural land. Further, they should have received ‘Scheduled Tribe’ status. Instead, there were reports of illegal trade in urea recently. Despite this, the SKM said that the government performed well in paddy procurement compared to past years. Though farmers had to pay a bribe of ₹ 200 to ₹ 500 per quintal before giving their thumb impression at purchase centres and receiving cheques.

In another district, Bahraich, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to solve the stray cattle issue but did not explain how. Farmers called him out on this and appealed to the people not to vote for the party. On Sunday, Bahraich reported 59.73 percent vote turnout whereas Prayagraj reported 54 percent voter turnout.  

After the fifth phase farmers visited, Gorakhpur, Basti, Azamgarh and will continue all the way to Varanasi to continue their appeal to citizens, not to vote for BJP. The next polling phase will be on March 3.

Related:

Assembly elections: Over 67 percent voter turnout in Haridwar, Saharanpur
UP Assembly Elections: Over 57 percent turnout in Phase 1
SKM urges citizens and farmers to punish BJP with 'vote ki chot'
Western UP: Are Jat farmers losing faith in the BJP?
SKM focuses on Jhansi, asks what has the regime done to alleviate suffering in the drought-prone region?
Lakhimpur Kheri case: Farmers remain enraged by Mishra’s bail 

UP elections: ECI data indicates enthusiastic voter turnout in the farming community

Voter turnout higher in farmer-dominated areas; is this a sign of disillusionment with the regime that has failed to deliver on promises made to the agricultural community?

Sanyukta Kisan Morcha
Image Courtesy:hindustantimes.com

Farmer umbrella body Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) continued their Mission Uttar Pradesh campaign on March 1, 2022 to decry the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) failure to deliver on promises made to and assurances given to farmers.

At a press conference in Azamgarh, SKM leaders appealed to the public to give the ruling regime a “vote ki chot” for fooling farmers. In December 2021, the Centre promised to organise a Minimum Support Price (MSP) committee, withdrawal of FIRs against protesting farmers, provide compensation to farmers among other things, even as it withdrew teh three contentious farm laws that had sparked a historic nation-wide, year-long protest by the farming community. Farmers agreed to vacate Delhi borders on the condition that these promises will be delivered upon within the next month.

Farmers also had other complaints such as failed procurement assurances, and the martyrdom of over 750 farmers during the nationwide protests, as well as failure to act swiftly to bring justice to those killed in Lakhimpur Kheri.

When the BJP failed farmers yet again, they launched a campaign to ‘punish’ the party in all state Assembly Elections. Particularly in UP, SKM talked about fake promises of subsidised electricity, doubling farmers’ incomes, procurement with interest to sugarcane farmers, move to solve the problem of stray cattle, etc. At an earlier conference in Prayagraj, farmer leaders claimed they received an enthusiastic response to their campaign from the agrarian community.

The numbers tell a story

Data sourced from the Election Commission of India’s Voter Turnout app reports enthusiastic voter turnout in farmer dominated areas. Typically a high voter turnout is associated with a wave of anti-incumbency, when people take to voting booths in large numbers to vote out incompetent leaders. For example, the voter turnout was 61.04 percent in 2017 when the BJP government came to power and defeated the Samajwadi Party.

Overall, the app says that the first phase recorded 62.43 percent voter turnout, the second phase recorded 64.66 percent turnout, the third phase recorded 62.28 percent voter turnout, the fourth phase reported 62.76 percent turnout and the fifth phase reported 58.52 percent voter turnout.

According to the SKM, the recent peasant struggle has awakened many farmers to the real issues in the country. To put this claim to the test, there is a need to look at voting behaviour in these community areas during the five phases that have concluded so far.

Phase 1

As many as 623 candidates hoped for a favourable turnout from the 2.27 crore eligible voters in the 58 constituencies of this phase on February 10. These regions were in the districts of Agra, Aligarh, Baghpat, Bulandshahr, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Hapur, Mathura, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar and Shamli.

Of these, Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut and Baghpat are the farmer dominated districts that reported a minimum of 65 percent voter turnout. Meerut reported 64.67 percent voter turnout, Baghtpat had a 64.98 percent voter turnout, Muzaffarnagar reported 66.74 percent voter turnout and Shamli had an overall voter turnout of 70.17 percent.

Of the latter, the Kairana constituency reported a whopping 75 percent voter turnout. The other two constituencies, Shamli and Thana Bhawan reported 67.58 percent and 67.86 percent respectively.

Phase 1 highest and lowest voter turnout (Farmer dominated regions)

District

Constituency (Highest)

Constituency (Lowest)

Shamli (70.17 %)

Kairana (75.01 %)

Shamli (67.58 percent)

Muzaffarnagar (66.74 %)

Khatauli (69.65 %)

Muzaffarnagar (62.59 %)

Meerut (64.67 %)

Kithore (69.46 %)

Meerut Cantt. (56.66 %)

Baghpat (64.91 %)

Baghpat (67.78 %)

Chhaprauli (62.56 %)

During this phase, SabrangIndia spoke to some Jat farmers in Shamli district. At the time, they expressed a loss of confidence in the ruling BJP after it faltered on its promises of sugarcane procurement, electricity and irrigation. A voter also talked about the persisting issue of stray cattle destroying crops – a problem that had become a state-hazard over time.

In fact, The Hindu reports that stray cattle became a menace after the 2017 elections when the BJP-led government came to power. Cattle markets, curbs in transportation of cattle, shutting down of illegal slaughter houses and cow conservation policies have allowed the proliferation of the species, resulting in a major financial loss for farmers. Over the years, SabrangIndia also reported persisting cases wherein people – often Muslims – merely transporting cattle were attacked for attacking “gau maata”.

Aside from Shamli, Muzaffarnagar’s Khatauli constituency reported the highest voter turnout so far at 69.59 percent. Baghpat also reported the highest turnout so far in Baghpat town with 67.78 percent voter, while Meerut’s Kithore constituency reported the highest turnout so far of 69.46 percent in the district.

Phase 2

On February 14, elections began along the sugarcane belt. Most of the nine districts in this phase reported higher than 60 percent voter turnout with the exception of Budaun and Shahjahanpur. 586 candidates appealed to an electorate of 2 crore people, majorly dominated by farmers.

The highest voter turnout was in the Amroha district that reported 72.27 percent voter turnout, even more than Shamli in the previous phase. Each of the four constituencies reported a turnout of 70 percent or more. Amroha was closely followed by Saharanpur district with 71. 34 percent voter turnout.

Phase 2 highest and lowest voter turnout (Farmer dominated regions)

District

Constituency (Highest)

Constituency (Lowest)

Amroha (72.27 %)

Naugawan Sadat (74.15 %)

Dhanaura (70.13 %)

Saharanpur (71.34 %)

Nakur (76.06 %)

Saharanpur Nagar (65.80 %)

Moradabad (67.32 %)

Thakurdwara (73.84 %)

Moradabad Nagar (60.61 %)

Bijnor (66.17 %)

Chandpur (68.72 %)

Bijnor (64.20 %)

Bareilly (62.48 %)

Baheri (72.47 %)

Bareilly Cantt. (51.53 %)

Prior to the second phase, a farmer Mohammad Wakar had told SabrangIndia how all parties, barring BJP, sent Muslim candidates to the Muslim-dominated region. This, according to him, causes a divide in votes that inevitably benefits the BJP. However, the pressing concerns regarding communalism are left wholly unaddressed.

Similarly, Moradabad too enjoys a large Muslim population. However, the people do not think that the government can help with livelihood. According to local farmer Ashkar Ahmad, only 40 percent of the people in his region understood the larger issues, and many farmers hesitated to join the farmer protests. They feared the police would arrest them. A day after the polling, ECI reported 67.32 percent voter turnout in Moradabad with the lowest turnout in Moradabad town – 60.61 percent.

According to media reports, Bareilly, Saharanpur, Moradabad, Amroha have more than 60 percent sugarcane farmers. These farmers have voiced grievances regarding the lack of procurement of their crops during the farmers struggle near Delhi borders. On February 14, Bareilly reported 62.48 percent voter turnout and Bijnor reported 66.17 percent voter turnout.

Phase 3

On February 20, as many as 16 districts went into election phased including many farmers from the potato belt. During the previous phase, SKM visited Jhansi district – included in this phase – to talk about farmer grievances.

It may be noted that Hathras is the same district where a girl from the Valmiki caste was allegedly sexually assaulted and killed by members of the dominant caste. The incident had shaken the entire country, especially after it was reported that the local police burned the girl’s body without the family’s permission. Protests condemning the police, administration and the accused were observed all over India.

Phase 4

On February 23, nine districts with 624 candidates began voting. This phase was again estimated to be important for farmers because the Kheri and Pilibhit districts in this phase had earlier reported instances of state aggression against farmers supporting the nationwide movement.

On October 3, 2021, Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish allegedly mowed down protesting farmers at Tikonia village. Four farmers and a local journalist died during this attack that was declared “a pre-planned conspiracy” by the Special Investigation team (SIT) looking into the matter later on. According to a local farmer who survived the incident, Kheri peasants condemned the state government for protecting the alleged accused in the case. After Ashish’s bail, the SKM and survivors questioned the rationale in allowing an alleged murderer to be out on bail within four months of the attack.

Phase 4 highest and lowest voter turnout (Farmer dominated regions)

District

Constituency (Highest)

Constituency (Lowest)

Kheri (67.79 %)

Sri nagar (71.59 %)

Lakhmipur (65.18 %)

Pilibhit (69.20 %)

Barkhera (73.17 %)

Bisalpur (66.12 %)

Moreover, Navreet Singh, the young farmer who died at the ITO in Delhi on January 26, 2021, was a part of the Bilaspur farming community in Kheri. Angered by the state’s attempt to dismiss the death as an accident, local Jat farmers said they will not vote for the ruling regime.

On the day of voting, Kheri reported 67.79 percent turnout with 65.18 percent voter turnout in Lakhimpur Kheri. Pilibhit reported 69. 20 percent voter turnout.

Phase 5

February 27 marked the latest phase of election with 12 districts going for voting. The highest number of voters were reported in Barabanki (68.64 percent voter turnout).

Phase 5 highest and lowest voter turnout (Farmer dominated regions)

District

Constituency (Highest)

Constituency (Lowest)

Prayagraj ( 54 %)

Bara (61.16 %)

Allahabad North (39.34 %)

On the day of the third phase, SKM visited Prayagraj (Allahabad) region to talk about the real worries of Prayagraj and Kaushambi farmers such as stray cattle, inflated electricity bills and halted connections, increased gas prices and mining controversies. Development projects along the Yamuna river had put Kol and other Adivasi communities’ livelihoods at risk.

These communities in Shankargarh, Koraon and Mirzapur say that most of the gram sabha land was given to the forest department. Members should have received pattas to mine gravel and convert it into agricultural land. Further, they should have received ‘Scheduled Tribe’ status. Instead, there were reports of illegal trade in urea recently. Despite this, the SKM said that the government performed well in paddy procurement compared to past years. Though farmers had to pay a bribe of ₹ 200 to ₹ 500 per quintal before giving their thumb impression at purchase centres and receiving cheques.

In another district, Bahraich, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to solve the stray cattle issue but did not explain how. Farmers called him out on this and appealed to the people not to vote for the party. On Sunday, Bahraich reported 59.73 percent vote turnout whereas Prayagraj reported 54 percent voter turnout.  

After the fifth phase farmers visited, Gorakhpur, Basti, Azamgarh and will continue all the way to Varanasi to continue their appeal to citizens, not to vote for BJP. The next polling phase will be on March 3.

Related:

Assembly elections: Over 67 percent voter turnout in Haridwar, Saharanpur
UP Assembly Elections: Over 57 percent turnout in Phase 1
SKM urges citizens and farmers to punish BJP with 'vote ki chot'
Western UP: Are Jat farmers losing faith in the BJP?
SKM focuses on Jhansi, asks what has the regime done to alleviate suffering in the drought-prone region?
Lakhimpur Kheri case: Farmers remain enraged by Mishra’s bail 

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