Loss of 38 seats in 5 states: Has BJP paid the price for ‘ignoring’ farmers?

Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Arjun Munda lost by a big margin in Jharkhand.
Farmers raise slogans during their protest against new farm laws at Ghazipur border in New Delhi.
Farmers raise slogans during their protest against new farm laws at Ghazipur border in New Delhi.File Photo | PTI

NEW DELHI: The BJP got a major setback in Lok Sabha polls in states marked by farmers’ protests, resulting in the party falling short of the majority mark.

The Narendra Modi-led government had ignored the farmers’ demands and the ruling party lost seats which it had won in 2019 in different states. Moreover, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Arjun Munda lost by a big margin in Jharkhand.

The BJP has lost around 38 seats mostly confined to protesting farmers’ belts, such as western UP, Punjab, Haryana, northern Rajasthan and onion-growing belt in Maharashtra. In many places the BJP leaders had not been able to conduct their campaign.

Farmers resumed their protest in February to march towards Delhi but they were halted at Punjab-Haryana border. Farmers from Haryana and western UP had not been allowed to enter the capital. Experts say the impact of farmers’ protests has hurt the BJP’s prospects in other states too.

In western UP, the BJP lost polls in Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Kairana, Nagina, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, and also Lakhimpur Kheri where BJP minister Ajay Mishra Teni’s son ran over protesting farmers.

The BJP lost its two seats it had won in the previous election in Punjab, besides 11 seats in Rajasthan and five in Haryana. The party lost 12 out 13 seats in onion-growing belt of Maharashtra.

Farmers have been protesting for the past four years to get legally guaranteed price for their produce as per Swaminathan Commission’s recommendation. They also demand debt waiver and repeal of privatisation of the power sector.

In Maharashtra, government had first curbed the export and later put a ban on onion export to control domestic price in 2023. Maharashtra is the largest producer of onion in the country where onion farmers’ clout expands to 14 parliamentary constituencies. Onion farmers protested the move but government ignored them.

“Government had taken a series of decisions which were against the interest of onion farmers and traders. It led to a crash of price which hit traders and farmers,” said Khandu Kaka Devre, president of Nashik District Onion Traders Association.

He said anger of onion farmers is still simmering and they will again act against the government in upcoming assembly elections.

Farmers’ organisation Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) has congratulated people for denying the BJP a majority in the Lok Sabha.

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