Farmers fail to deliver “Vote ki chot” to BJP in UP

Despite a widespread campaign, SKM fails to repeat Bengal success during UP Assembly elections

vote ki chot

Angered by false promises, farmers had resolved to give the ruling regime Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ‘vote ki chot’ or an electoral body blow, after stating that the party only understands the language of vote. Yet, despite widespread campaigns and press conferences at Jhansi, Allahabad, Gorakhpur and many other cities by the Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the BJP seems to have retained its power in the state.

As of 2 PM on March 10, 2022, the Election Commission of India (ECI) reports that the BJP leads in 246 seats while the Samajwadi Party (SP) trails behind, leading with 124 seats. The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) , another supposed favourite of the farming community, garnered a lead of only 9 seats.

While farmer leaders have not put up an official statement, members of the SKM like Yogendra Yadav said that the farmers’ umbrella body never assured BJP’s defeat but only urged people not to vote for an “anti-farmer” political party. While trends so far certainly do not hint at a great impact by the SKM, the mobilisation seems to have left an effect in the western region.

Dubious impact of SKM campaign

Perhaps the biggest shock to farmer leaders was the trend that showed the BJP leading in Lakhimpur Kheri. Farmers have time and again raged against the violent massacre of farmers at Tikonia village on October 3, 2021. The anger worsened when the main accused Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra, received bail from the Allahabad High Court. Even though the Special Investigation Team (SIT) looking into the alleged massacre declared that the incident was a planned attack, Mishra was granted bail.

As such, it seemed likely to the general public that this constituency would be lost to the BJP. However, on Thursday, people saw BJP candidate Yogesh Verma leading with a margin of over 8,000 votes. The news is even more shocking considering Lakhimpur reported 65.18 percent voter turnout indicating an incumbency factor.

However, when speaking to SabrangIndia, farming residents of the area reported fear on hearing about Mishra’s bail. Survivors speaking to SabrangIndia said they did not receive any witness protection or compensation and so were shocked to hear about Mishra’s bail. During the incident, farmers were mowed down by an SUV vehicle. The fear was enough among the people to ask reporters to withhold their name. This was around the first phase of polling whereas Lakhimpur went to polls around phase 4. The news delivered a huge blow to their morale.

Shamli district with BJP leading in two of its constituencies was another major blow to farmers’ campaign. Kairana that had reported a whopping 75.01 percent voter turnout and Shamli constituency show leads switching often between SP and BJP. Earlier, Kairana farmers reported much frustration with the state government. People voiced anger regarding stray cattle, rising fuel prices, and failed sugarcane procurements. Yet, only the Thana Bhawan constituency came through on the vote ki chot slogan and showed a lead for the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).

Similarly, of the top four voter turnout constituencies in Meerut, another farmer-dominated area, three areas reported a BJP lead. Ghazipur, Jhansi, Allahabad (Allahabad South showed an SP lead), Etah and Varanasi were further blows with BJP leading there.

Small victories in specific constituencies

While the Lakhimpur Kheri trends appear to dismiss any effective impact of farmers, other districts show relative success. For example, two of the five constituencies in Muzaffarnagar report RLD in the lead. This is the same district where the Muzaffarnagar mahapanchayat was held by the SKM. Farmers from various parts of India gathered there to show a unity discarding communal sentiments.

Similarly, in the sugarcane belt, half of Amroha’s district, Amroha and Naugawan Sadat show SP lead. 60 percent of this district population belongs to the farming community. Similarly in Saharanpur, Nakur and Behat show SP lead with only Saharanpur constituency showing BJP in the lead. In Moradabad Rural, SP again takes the lead. Rampur Khas was an outlier that showed the Congress party’s lead rather than the SP-RLD alliance.

Further, Ambedkar Nagar also shows a non-BJP trend in its constituencies. Towards the end of the SKM campaign, leaders visited this area to discourage people from voting for BJP.

With BJP showing an overall lead in UP as well as Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur, the farmers failed to repeat its success in West Bengal. However, leaders during previous conferences asserted that they will continue the struggle until the government comes through on the written assurances made to protesting Delhi-border farmers in 2021.


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