16 Feb 2024

Will farmers' renewed protest ahead of Lok Sabha Elections-2024 pose a political challenge to BJP?

The upcoming  Lok Sabha Elections-2024 in India are drawing near, and a new government is likely to emerge within the next three months. Amidst this anticipation, the farmers have once again escalated their protest.

Within political circles, there is a lively debate on whether this renewed movement, initiated prior to the elections, will pose a formidable challenge to the BJP. 

Notably, the organizations that spearheaded the farmers' movement in 2020, such as Rakesh Tikait's Bharatiya Kisan Union and All India Kisan Sabha, are not actively participating this time. The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) clarified that while they are not directly involved in the ongoing movement, they are not opposing it either.

BKU remains focused solely on farmers' issues, says Tikait

Rakesh Tikait emphasized that his organization remains focused solely on farmers' issues. He says that his organization has been talking only about farmers and it has nothing to do with the elections or political parties.

Tikait said, "We have been fighting for the demands of the farmers. First we opposed the three black laws and forced the government to withdraw them. Now our fight is for the other pending demands."

The current movement, he asserts, is geared towards addressing other pending demands including law on MSP.

Observers note that only farmer organizations from Punjab are participating in the current movement, and not all of them. These groups reportedly have the backing of the Punjab state government.

Since all the farmer organizations are not together this time, this movement does not seem to have any impact on the elections.

As the movement is being carried out by only a few organizations in one state, it will not have any political impact in other states. This is not a big challenge for BJP in the Lok Sabha elections.

Although the old farmer organizations are not involved in the movement this time, Rakesh Tikait said that now all the organizations will be forced to think about the way tear gas shells and rubber bullets were fired at the farmers in Haryana and the way nails and barriers have been installed.

Farmer protest may not significantly impact BJP

While the movement aims at the Central Government, some argue that it may not significantly impact the BJP. Union Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda has accused the Congress of fueling the movement for political gains, asserting that it is politically motivated and strategically timed with an eye on the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Munda accuses the Congress of provoking the farmers.

Nevertheless, certain political analysts suggest that the BJP could potentially make a strategic move during this period by addressing farmers' concerns. They argue that recent announcements, such as posthumously conferring Bharat Ratna to Chaudhary Charan Singh and MS Swaminathan, may be perceived as part of a broader strategy in the run-up to the elections.

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