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Show of Strength at Muzaffarnagar Mahapanchayat

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Rakesh Tikait and Samyukt Kisan Morch are successful in collecting huge mass at Muzaffarnagar that is not just aimed at their cardinal demand of ‘repeal of farm laws’ but also the defeat of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

By RITESH KASHYAP


No matter which side of the political spectrum you place yourself, you will not hesitate to accept the fact that the 'Kisan Mahapanchayat’ held in Muzaffarnagar is a success for the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) as thousands of farmers from Uttar Pradesh and neighboring states collected to protest Modi government's farm laws. This gathering has more meaning for political realm as compared to social or economic.

The key note of the protest is that the organizers and their supporters have a single point agenda: defeat the BJP. Choice of the venue is also vital. It’s the same place that rose to protest with massive Jat outrage after the riots of 2013. The farmer leaders are toiling to end communal polarization in the run up to assembly polls and defeat the BJP this time. 

Though Rakesh Tikait has been boasting on the television that there gathered more than 20 lakh but the Yogi government has something to fear because the gathering was a large one even if not what Tikait is saying. This has great chances of impacting the results in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand that will go to poll in a few months from here.

The organizers have informed the press that they are distancing themselves absolutely from all opposition parties and its not their quest to support one over other; the entire focus of the SKM is to defeat BJP wherever its in power in the country. 

All major opposition parties support Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM). A united opposition riding on the waves of farmers protests can make a great comeback at least in this part western part of UP. Rahul Gandhi looks to have taken the lead on social media at least. 

At Muzaffarnagar rally, farmers’ leaders reiterated their resolve to continue with the protest. “They (the Centre) said only a handful of farmers are protesting. Let them see how few are protesting. Let us raise our voices so it reaches the ears of those sitting in parliament,” were the views of all speakers on the dais. The quantum of meeting is evident from the fact that around 8,000 security 

men were deployed to maintain law and order. The historic GIC ground, where legendary Mahendra Singh Tikait used to hold his meetings, witnesses his son Rakesh Tikait’s public appeal. 

He said, “If the government understands something, it will be good. Such meetings will be held across the country. We need to save the country from being sold.” However, the farmers' protest at Delhi's borders against the three contentious laws has been going on for over nine months. They have been demanding the repeal of the laws, which they feel will do away with the MSP system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporations.

The SKM has smartly termed the Mahapanchayat as a mark of protest against the atrocities by the police against protesting farmers in Haryana’s Karnal on August 28. Its already a burning across in the adjoining state. 


The Anatomy of Maha-panchayats 

The 'mahapanchayat' assumes greater electoral significance as for the first time since the 2013 Muzaffarnagar communal riots, which claimed over 60 lives and left thousands homeless, that farmer leaders from both Hindus and Muslim communities have shared the stage. 

A sharp communal polarisation following the communal riots had proved to be a huge boon for the saffron party.  The BJP had swept the western UP region in the Lok Sabha polls in 2014 and 2019 and in the state assembly elections in 2017 riding on the division between the 'Jats' and the Muslims, who together have decided the outcome of the polls in the past.  

The two communities are influential in over one hundred assembly constituencies in Meerut, Baghpat, Shamli, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Moradabad, Agra, Mathura, Aligarh and few other districts as The Jat farmer leader Tikait chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ‘Har Har Mahadev’ in the same breath might mean a change in the equations. 

On the other hand, BJP termed the Mahapanchayat as an "election meeting" and accused its organisers of indulging in politics with assembly polls approaching in a number of states, including UP. The saffron party was fast to take advantage of the slogan that Rakesh Tikait raised at GIC ground, “Allah o Akbar, Har-Har Mahadev.” “The impact of the farmers’ protests and farmers’ meetings will have no impact on the election. The communal issues between Jats and Muslims are real in this part of the state. The organisers are just trying to mitigate it so that BJP performs poor here,” says Gaurav Chaudhary, a resident of Muzaffarnagar.

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