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BJP plans to reach out to khap leaders in western Uttar Pradesh

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The BJP is planning to reach out to khap (community) leaders in western Uttar Pradesh in an attempt to contain the spiralling agitation led by the Jats against the three central farm laws in a region where the party has enjoyed overwhelming support in recent elections.

“We will go and sit with farmers in the region and try to hear them out,” Union minister Sanjeev Balyan told ET after a meeting with Jat leaders of western UP at his residence on Wednesday.

The meeting took place a day after home minister Amit Shah and the BJP’s national president JP Nadda met Jat MPs, MLAs and leaders of UP, Haryana and Rajasthan.

Balyan met about 20 leaders from western UP including state ministers and MLAs. The BJP’s national vice president Saudan Singh was also present at the meeting.

“The three farm laws are not an issue with western UP farmers,” said Balyan. “In western UP, there are no APMC (agricultural produce marketing committee) mandis (marketplaces), only gud (jaggery) mandis. The farmers here are already intro contract farming for sugarcane as they enter into an agreement with sugar mills.”

Balyan said the party leaders who attended the meeting would address other issues of farmers such as electricity and sugarcane payments and make the BJP’s central leadership aware of their grievances.

The BJP is worried about the mahapanchayats taking place in western UP almost on a daily basis. These gatherings are attracting huge crowds, mostly from the Jat community. Different khaps are also organising mahapanchayats and mobilising support for the farmers’ movement.

“The khap leaders are our leaders too and we will meet them and try to convince them,” said Balyan.

The BJP has instructed its leaders to go to their respective areas and organise small and large meetings from panchayat up to district level in order to convince the people about the three farm laws.

“There is no question of repealing the farm laws. Political parties have entered into the movement and are trying to gain ground in the name of farmers. We will make the people aware of the political motives behind this movement,” Rajkumar Chahar, national president, BJP Kisan Morcha, told ET.

There are about 18 Lok Sabha seats in western UP where Jats have considerable influence, and they have been voting for the BJP in large numbers since 2014 Lok Sabha election, said BJP functionaries.

The party’s immediate concern is the upcoming zila panchayat elections in about two months. There are 26 zila panchayats in western UP and the BJP currently controls 25 of them. Jat voters have considerable influence in about 18 of these zila panchayats. UP is also headed for an assembly election early next year.

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