Will rollback of farm laws retrieve western U.P. for BJP?

Decision spurred by internal tussle, poor performance in the Panchayat poll and by-polls

November 19, 2021 11:39 pm | Updated November 20, 2021 09:00 am IST - Ghaziabad

Following the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement to repeal the three farm laws, there were multiple theories to explain the reversal.

Following the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement to repeal the three farm laws, there were multiple theories to explain the reversal.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to roll back the contentious farm laws will lead to political recalibration in western U.P. ahead of Assembly polls. Sources say the decision was on the cards for some time but because of multiple factors it was delayed.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement early in the day, there were multiple theories to explain the reversal. Observers say the decision was spurred by the BJP’s internal tussle, poor performance in the Panchayat polls and the recent by-polls but its impact would be mixed.


The members of the BJP cadre who were busy explaining the advantages of the laws till yesterday are suddenly at a loss of words. “We can say the PM has said the laws are good but we could not explain... you know how it is,” said a BJP MLA requesting anonymity.

Jat alienation

Party sources said many of sitting Jat MLAs might not get the nod this time. “We will not forget their role during the year-long agitation and the way they questioned our motives. We have understood the true character of the BJP and the party deserves vote ki chot (pain of the ballot),” said Sokendra Chaudhary of the Battisa khap in Shamli.

“We have not allowed Sanjeev Balyan, Suresh Rana and Umesh Malik to enter our villages and it would not change. The party doesn’t seem to understand the region where personal dignity is above everything else. I feel sorry for them (local BJP leaders). How would they face their people,” he said.

Yogi factor

There is also an impression that Yogi Adityanath’s rise in the party forced the Centre’s hand. Observers cite Rakesh Tikait’s role in dousing the Lakhimpur fire and how the BKU has repeatedly refrained from holding protests in Lucknow. Sources in BKU maintained it was the stubbornness of the Centre that affected the Chief Minister the most and they were in fact waiting for the decision since October.

“If Adityanath had won despite the farm laws, even if with a lesser margin, he would have emerged as a successor to Mr Modi, which a section of the BJP doesn’t want in 2024. Now, the laurels would be shared,” said a source.

Party sources also said because of the pandemic, the party has to deal with public anger on multiple issues like unemployment and inflation. “By closing one chapter, the damage could be minimised and the party could focus on its nationalist agenda,” said a BJP leader from Muzaffarnagar.


Sokhendra Sharma, assistant professor in Digambar Jain College, Baraut said the decision was driven by the loss of BJP supported candidates in two tiers of the three-tier panchayat election. The party knew how it managed to install its Zila Panchayat presidents by using administrative machinery. Further, as the election campaign gathers steam, it is becoming increasingly clear that it will be a bipolar election between the Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance and the BJP, Mr Sharma said. “The Bahujan Samaj Party is conspicuous by its silence. In such a scenario, the margin of victory and defeat would be thin.”

Dr Ajeet Singh, associate professor at SSV PG College, Hapur and a BJP sympathiser, echoes the analysis.

“By rolling back the farm laws, the BJP has saved those seats where the margin of victory was 10-15,000 votes in the previous election. The non-Jat farmer who was annoyed with the BJP because of the farm laws would return to the fold. And even among Jats there is a section that is drifting towards the RLD because they could not see farmers squatting on roads. They will return because they identify with the nationalist agenda of the BJP.”

Threat of privatisation

However, Ajay Tomer, former MLA of RLD contended that repealing the laws wouldn’t hide the intent of the BJP to privatise key sectors.

“The large-scale unemployment and inflation affect not just one community and would keep the voter away from the BJP,” he said. “When the BJP president could not save seats in his home State in the recent bypolls, the writing is clear on the wall.”

He reminded that the PM did not commiserate with farmers who lost their lives during the agitation.

“He is trying to tell the farmers, that the laws were right but the farmers didn't have the intellect to process what is good for them. This condescending approach doesn't work with the voter, particularly in West U.P.”

Aftab Alam, professor of Political Science in Aligarh Muslim University said the BJP didn’t want to leave anything to chance in the crucial State. He said one of the pitfalls of nurturing “loyal media houses” is that their opinion polls could not be fully trusted.

“It seems there was a confusion between the State and the Central unit of the party that delayed the decision. Through this decision, the BJP has saved its core voter from being poached. It shows the BJP has some degree of internal democracy left and has its ear to the ground.”

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.