For BJP, PM Narendra Modi’s big heart could have prompted the repeal of three contentious farm laws. For political analysts and Opposition leaders, it is simply a matter of electoral arithmetic. This holds especially true in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh and its spillover effect in Punjab elections.
In western UP, 16 districts comprise 136 Assembly seats out of the total of 403. Jat votes in these districts, which consolidated after the 2013 riots in BJP’s favour, have disintegrated. That means the Jats, an aggressive section of the farmer stir, are going back again with the Muslims against BJP — a grim warning for the party.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav was blunt in his reaction. “The repeal symbolises the defeat of an individual’s ego, which has been prompted by the fear of losing 2022 polls. They’ll bring the same laws after elections.”
Congress’s Priyanka Gandhi said, “Why is the PM apologising now when 600-700 farmers have lost their lives? It is because (BJP’s) internal surveys have warned them of defeat in polls,” she said in Lucknow
Some analysts term it as the PM’s masterstroke to deny the Opposition any chance to gain an edge in the polls.
They say the formidable Jat-Muslim votes would now stand divided to BJP’s advantage. In Punjab, political analyst Prof Ashutosh of Punjab University says BJP can now hope to have some kind of presence in the polls. “They would co-opt farmer leaders to preempt a backlash in the polls.”
Another political observer, Prof Kuldeep Singh says the decision would enable the Centre to have wider consultations with various farmer unions, something the government should have done earlier. “In the process, BJP would like to take credit for the decision and make a fresh beginning in Punjab after losing support.
The saffron party faces isolation in Punjab after it parted ways with the Akalis following enactment of the laws. Many say the poll dynamics would change with former CM Amarinder Singh going ahead with seat adjustment with the BJP.
In Uttarakhand, stakes are high for BJP. Jay Singh Rawat, a political commentator, said, “The repeal will have its effects in US Nagar where a sizable population of farmers supported the protests.” The Bajpur seat in the US Nagar district is considered a stronghold of former state minister Yashpal Arya. He was a cabinet minister for BJP and joined Congress last month.
Harpreet Bajwa (Chandigarh), Vineet Upadhyay (Dehradun), ENS (Lucknow)