The proximity of Uttarakhand to the epicentre of the farmers’ movement and its impact on some parts of the State make for an interesting case study. One-fifths of the State’s households are farming households — based mainly in the hills rather than the plains. Close to three-fifths of the voters believed that the condition of farmers in their State had deteriorated — this trend was higher in the hills than the plains. However, not many voters in the hills (both Garhwal and Kumaon) considered farmers’ issues as voting issues. Less than two of every 10 in these regions said that the farmers’ movement was a voting issue for them.
However, in the plains, voters were more assertive on farmers’ issues: close to half of them considered the farmers’ movement as a very important election issue. Close to three-fifths (58%) also kept the Lakhimpur Kheri incident in mind while casting their vote (Table 1). In fact, voters of farming households from the hills were also non-committal on the Lakhimpur Kheri incident as not many shared their view on the removal of Ajay Mishra Teni from the Ministry after the Lakhimpur Kheri incident. On the other hand, half the voters from farming households in the plains agreed that Mr. Teni should have been removed from the Council of Ministers after the Lakhimpur Kheri incident. Even when it came to supporting the farmers’ movement, in the plains the support was quite strong as compared to the hills (Table 2).
Overall, the farmers supported the BJP and this support was even higher (+5%) as compared to voters engaged in non-farming occupations. Once farmers’ vote choices were segregated across regions, it was found that the BJP had the biggest lead (+41%) over the Congress in the Garhwal region. In Kumaon and the plains, the farmers preferred the Congress over the BJP. In Kumaon, the Congress’s lead over the BJP among farmer voters was +8%. In the plains, the Congress had the greatest edge over the BJP (a lead of +11% points). It was also found that the Congress was slightly ahead (with a difference of 3% points) of the BJP among farming households that openly supported the farmers’ movement while elsewhere the BJP was far ahead of the Congress (Table 3).
The farmers’ movement clearly impacted the plains more than hills. Even in the hills, the Garhwal region was not at all affected by the farmers’ movement and overwhelmingly supported the BJP. The farmers in the Kumaon region considered the farmers’ movement while voting and those who supported the movement voted for the Congress as done by the farmers in the plains.
Jyoti Mishra is a Research Associate at Lokniti-CSDS and Vidhi Goel is an Assistant Professor, School of Liberal Arts, Uttaranchal University, Uttarakhand