New Delhi: In a tweet on Sunday, BJP leader Varun Gandhi described protesting farmers gathered in Muzzaffarnagar for a mahapanchyat as “our own flesh and blood” and stressed the need to “understand their pain” and re-engage with them.
Gandhi’s stand seems to be a breaking of ranks indicating a growing unease in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the continued farmers’ agitation ahead of the UP assembly elections.
While a number of BJP leaders have condemned the agitation calling it either anti-national or being hijacked by the opposition, most have chosen to stay quiet on the issue while advocating dialogue.
BJP MLA from Khurja Vijendra Singh tweeted: “Sorry Varun ji but still you need to make difference between farmers and anti-national elements”. Singh later deleted his tweet.
Meanwhile, Gandhi’s comment was appreciated by opposition leaders such as RLD leader Jayan Chaudhary.
Gandhi is one of the few BJP MPs to come out in support of the farmers. Many in the party, however, attributed his outburst over his exclusion in the union cabinet in July.
The BJP MP’s support for the agitation comes months before the crucial Uttar Pradesh elections where the BJP is hoping for a comeback in the backdrop of farmer agitations over three controversial farm laws.
“Lakhs of farmers have gathered in protest today, in Muzaffarnagar. They are our own flesh and blood. We need to start re-engaging with them in a respectful manner: understand their pain, their point of view and work with them in reaching common ground,” Gandhi tweeted Sunday — a day when a ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ was being held in Muzaffarnagar. Gandhi also shared a video of the Mahapanchayat.
Lakhs of farmers have gathered in protest today, in Muzaffarnagar. They are our own flesh and blood. We need to start re-engaging with them in a respectful manner: understand their pain, their point of view and work with them in reaching common ground. pic.twitter.com/ZIgg1CGZLn
— Varun Gandhi (@varungandhi80) September 5, 2021
‘Gandhi upset about being ignored the second time in cabinet expansion’
According to a senior BJP leader, Varun Gandhi’s comment seems to highlight his growing unhappiness with the party. “Varun was first hoping to be part of the cabinet after his mother Maneka Gandhi was dropped. However, that did not happen. He still carried on and was quite hopeful of finding a place in the recent expansion considering UP elections are also round the manner. But he was ignored this time too,” the leader said.
Another leader added that Gandhi was “quite upset about being ignored the second time” in the ministerial expansion. “He was desperately hoping to make it this time. The fact that he has openly come out and supported the kisan mahapanchayat is indicative of the fact that he is all set to take on the central leadership of the party,” he said.
According to sources, Gandhi had also met a delegation of farmers in Delhi a few days back even as the Modi government has issued a number of statements about holding discussions with the farmer unions while maintaining that they will not repeal the farm laws.
According to another party leader, Gandhi was “feeling sidelined for quite some time” but did not want to take any drastic steps. “This is not the first time that he has made his anger apparent. Earlier he had come up with a book on rural India in 2018 which was critical of the government though he had specifically named anyone,” the leader added.
A BJP leader in Uttar Pradesh further said that “the writing has been on the wall for quite some time” regarding Gandhi who was not asked to campaign during the recently held panchayat elections and that his marginalisation in the party has only grown over time.
BJP national leaders and spokespersons refused to comment on Gandhi’s tweet. “He’s a senior party leader and if he has raised some issues, the party will look at it,” said Harish Srivastava, spokesperson, Uttar Pradesh BJP.
Farmer leaders of Pilibhit, Gandhi’s constituency, met him at his residence in New Delhi Tuesday. Varun Gandhi is the “first MP of BJP”, who shared the pain of the farmers and has listened to their problems in detail, they said.
(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.