New Delhi: Farmers in Uttar Pradesh are angry over the state advised price (SAP) for sugarcane not being increased by the Yogi Adityanath government in the past few years, which has made it difficult for them to get cane payment from sugar mills, according to the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS).
BKS leaders have told ThePrint that during a district-level meeting recently, the organisation received complaints from farmers in Uttar Pradesh regarding the increase in electricity rates and pending dues from sugar mills.
On Sunday, the Uttar Pradesh government cleared a proposal to maintain the status quo on SAP for the 2020-21 crushing season.
A group of BKS leaders had visited Uttar Pradesh to gauge the mood of the farmers and found that most want these issues to be resolved and a Minimum Support Price (MSP) guarantee.
“Farmers are upset but not regarding the farm laws but at FRP (fair and remunerative price) and SAP not being increased over a period of time,” said BKS organising secretary, Dinesh Kulkarni. “At the same time, electricity rates are quite high. Many are still to get their pending payment. These issues need to be looked into.”
He further said that it is only in three-four districts that the impact of the farm laws is visible and that too being spearheaded by a few farm leaders.
“There are a few districts such as Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Baghpat wherein farm laws reforms are being criticised,” said another BKS functionary. “But even here more than the farmers it is being led by farmer leaders. This needs to be checked.”
The BKS is not part of the farm protests but has demanded the inclusion of certain clauses, such as making MSP applicable to the open market besides the mandis.
BKS spreading awareness on farm laws
The RSS affiliate had earlier carried out a public outreach programme on 26 January to inform farmers about the farm laws and how they “were being misled” by the unions and political parties.
Kulkarni said that since then, over one lakh workers had reached out to at least 40,000-50,000 villages.
The BJP’s Uttar Pradesh spokesperson Harish Srivastava said the party has also held a number of pro-farmer meetings that includes small, rural gatherings wherein party leaders are informing people about the steps taken by the government.
A number of farmers protesting in western Uttar Pradesh are Jats and the party is also trying to reach out to them. The party is chiefly concentrating on its rural outreach with panchayat elections likely to be held in April-May before the 2022 assembly elections.
“Our party has been preparing for the panchayat elections under the guidance of our state president. We believe in dialogue and right at the district and mandal level our cadre has been reaching out to the people,” Srivastava said. “At the same time, even at the village level our meetings are being taken by national leaders whether it is the minister, MP or MLA. Our government has worked tirelessly for the poor and needy right from the lockdown.”
On Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra attending kisan mahapanchayats in UP, Srivastava said, “The political tourism of Priyanka Gandhi doesn’t affect us. She did the same in 2019 and we all know the result.”
A number of party leaders are, however, concerned over the sugarcane and electricity issue and feel it can impact the upcoming panchayat elections. “The Samajwadi Party and RLD have been highlighting these issues and it is resonating among the farmers,” a senior BJP leader said. “The cabinet’s decision of not increasing the SAP is now being criticised by them. There is a need to reach out to the farmers immediately.”