Response to Lakhimpur Kheri reflects BJP’s dilemma

DPCC activists burn effigy of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as they protest against violence in Lakhimpur Kheri, in New Delhi, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021.   | Photo Credit: PTI

BJP MP Varun Gandhi on Monday called for restraint and patience in dealing with protesting farmers a day after eight people died in violence in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh.

In a letter to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Mr. Gandhi said a murder case under IPC section 302 should be lodged against those involved in the death of farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri and a CBI enquiry instituted. The MP from Pilibhit also demanded a compensation of ₹1 crore for families of the dead.

Mr. Gandhi, who has written earlier too on the various issues affecting farmers, said, “Agitating farmer-brothers are our own citizens,” and urged that the government should deal with them with great restraint and patience.

“In any case we should treat our farmers with sensitivity and only in Gandhian and democratic ways within the ambit of the law,” he added.

Beyond law and order

In a similar vein, former BJP ideologue K.N. Govindacharya too counselled that the Uttar Pradesh government should not treat the issue and the events in Lakhimpur Kheri as just a “law and order” problem but acknowledge the scope and complication of the issue of a long running movement by farmers’ groups and look for a solution that can satisfy all.

Also read: Lakhimpur Kheri incident: When stir turns violent ‘nobody takes responsibility’, says SC

The attempt of leaders of various political parties to reach Lakhmipur Kheri and the local administration’s actions in actively preventing them from reaching there also displayed the dilemma within the BJP response to the situation.

The party did not respond officially to the events in Lakhimpur Kheri, allowing the State unit and Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Kumar Mishra to speak instead.

Talking Politics with Nistula Hebbar | Lakhimpur Kheri violence and its aftermath

However, the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) did put out a statement that reflected some of the concerns within the RSS’ ideological universe. The BKS statement said those who were involved in the incident “were not farmers, they were from various political parties, and deployed ways of Leftist parties in this situation.”

“We condemn the incident and want a fair, independent enquiry and suitable punishment to those who are guilty,” said the statement.

All of this points to the fact that the long duration of the protests against the three farm laws (eleven months) is not something that is desired by the BJP. Sources in the party said incidents like what had happened in Lakhimpur Kheri would not have been possible if the protests had not been allowed to linger and cross State borders.

Last month’s massive mahapanchayat in Muzzaffarnagar in western U.P. by farmer’s groups and the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri indicate that the protests against the farm laws are casting a long shadow indeed, something that is worrisome as Assembly polls loom in Uttar Pradesh.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 9:58:28 AM |

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