New Delhi: With Uttar Pradesh assembly elections due next year, a number of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders have raised concern over the issue of static cane prices under the Yogi Adityanath government, which they say is creating resentment among sugarcane farmers.
According to sources, four MPs including Union minister Sanjeev Balyan, who is a Lok Sabha member from Muzaffarnagar, met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath earlier this month over the issues related to sugarcane farmers, including the state advised price (SAP). This is the minimum price at which sugar mills buy the farmers’ produce, fixed by the state government.
Rajkumar Chahar, BJP’s Kisan Morcha chief and MP from Fatehpur Sikri, Bulandshahr MP Bhola Singh and Baghpat MP Satyapal Singh were the other delegation members.
The delegation met the CM to apprise him of the situation and highlighted the issue raised by the farmers, said the sources.
“The leaders met the CM and informed him of the issues that are affecting the farmers. At the same time, they also said that the fact that SAP has not been increased for the past few years is a matter of concern,” said a senior BJP leader who didn’t wish to be named.
The CM assured them of looking into the matter, sources said.
“Elections are due next year and the opposition has already made this into a major issue. With the farm protests going on, many sugarcane farmers have also become a part of it which is not a good thing for the party,” a second leader said on condition of anonymity.
Earlier this month, Balyan, who is a Jat leader from Muzaffarnagar and the Minister of State for Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, held a meeting with the Jat leaders of western UP, after the party instructed leaders to reach out to the Khaps and tackle their resentment against the farm laws.
Anger over the sugarcane situation is resonating across the crop belt in western UP with farmers’ agitation around Delhi spreading to this Jat-dominated region.
Farmers are angry with the Adityanath government for not raising the SAP in the past few years. On 14 February, the UP government cleared a proposal to maintain status quo on SAP for the 2020-21 crushing season.
According to the feedback received by the party functionaries, there are a few western UP districts such as Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Baghpat that have seen support for the farm laws related protests.
What the UP government says
UP minister and government spokesperson, Sidharth Nath Singh, however, believes the government has taken a number of steps for the welfare of sugarcane farmers.
“We have kept the same SAP as it was last time and not changed it. At the same time, the core issue for the farmers was the payment that was not being made and our government has already released Rs 1.24 lakh crore which is the highest paid payment compared to the previous governments,” he told ThePrint.
“At the same time, of this, Rs 85,000 crore was the payment that was pending of the previous government. So we have settled the issue and the farmers are quite happy with our initiatives,” he said.
Nath added that the government is diversifying the scope of what the “sugarcane farmers can do apart from just making sugar”.
“For instance, we just approved producing ethanol directly from sugar and all this has helped stabilise the income of the farmer,” he added.