Express News Service
LUCKNOW: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s frequent visits to the state aimed at reviving her party for 2022 assembly polls has prompted the BJP to strategise to blunt her attack. Till mid-February, the Congress leader has visited the state four times. She was in Rampur on February 4 to meet the family of farmer Navdeep Singh, who died during the Republic Day protests.
She went to Saharanpur on February 10 to address a ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ despite the district administration’s refusal to allow such a gathering. On February 11, she was in Prayagraj, where she displayed her ‘soft Hindutva’ approach by taking a holy dip at the Sangam.
On Monday, the Congress general secretary was in the western UP district of Bijnor, where she addressed another ‘kisan panchayat’ repeating her charge that the Centre and PM Narendra Modi were helping “his billionaire friends” at the cost of farmers.
BJP insiders say the party is planning a series of pro-farmer meetings. The ‘action plan’ envisages small, rural gatherings. Besides, the leadership is also contemplating giving some positions of prominence in the party to some Jat leaders. The buzz is that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath may reshuffle his cabinet and induct party leaders for western UP, which has emerged an epicentre of farmer protests. Groups of farmers backing the new farm laws, too, are active and moves are afoot to rope them in.
State BJP leaders have already started attending farmers’ meetings. Assembly feedback is being gathered through grassroots cadre. Special focus is on those assembly constituencies which the party had won in the 2017 elections. The party’s rural exercise is being spearheaded by BJP state chief Swatantra Dev Singh. It will also help the BJP in upcoming panchayat polls likely in April-May.
The western UP leadership of BJP seems to be cagey about the ‘kisan mahapanchayats’ organised by Rashtriya Lok Dal, Congress and Samajwadi Party. “The farmers’ protest might have benefited the RLD and SP to an extent, but 2022 elections are a year away. We are confident of regaining the ground,” said a senior BJP functionary.
Observers believe more than BJP, parties like SP and BSP would be more cautious of the Congress presence as the party has a common vote bank. If Congress succeed sin gaining ground, it would be at the cost of regional satraps, they said.