In U.P., BJP lays hopes on hike in sugar cane prices
The BJP is looking at an anticipated rise in sugar cane procurement prices, to be announced by the Uttar Pradesh government as early as this week to give it a much-needed push in the Jat heartland of western Uttar Pradesh.
Senior BJP leaders confirmed to The Hindu that a hike in cane prices (State advised price) is expected soon, and will, as hoped by the party, go a long way in assuaging any misgivings farmers in the area especially the dominant Jat community may have with regard to the BJP and farmers’ issues, despite the large ‘mahapanchayat’ held by farmers groups last week.
“Western Uttar Pradesh has nothing to do with the farm laws that were passed last year. Here the politics revolves around ‘ganna’ [sugar cane], bijli [electricity] and stray cattle. Sugar cane dues from mills, price is what makes a difference, crops here are hardly sold in ‘mandis’, we have mostly contractual farming here, and also sales through cooperatives,” said a senior BJP leader from western Uttar Pradesh.
“There are two kinds of price regimes for sugar cane, one is the Centrally mandated Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP), which the Union government announced a hike a couple of Cabinet meetings ago. That, however, does not apply to Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Uttarakhand, where the State Advised Price (SAP) regime exists,” said the source. Currently the price in U.P. is ₹ 325 a quintal, whereas in Punjab, the rate is ₹ 360 and in Haryana ₹ 362. “We expect that the price point of ₹ 360 would ease a lot of issues around remunerative prices in the State,” he said.
High electricity bills
High electricity bills are also an issue in the countryside, with farmers comparing the free power being given in Punjab and cheap power provided in Haryana to make their point. “The thing about the farmers’ protests is not that the farmers here find common cause over the three farm Bills, but the aggrieved feelings among farmers for one reason or the other can lead to solidarity,” said the source.
Internal surveys by BJP have pointed out that the Samajwadi Party (SP) would be its main rival, and its anticipated tie up with Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) has also rang the alarm bells. Minority consolidation is, according to the survey, stronger this time around than it was in the 2017 polls. In the 2017 Assembly polls, the BJP won 117 out of the 146 seats in western U.P. “Last time too, there were issues with regard to aggrieved feelings among the Jat voters due to the events in Haryana and questions about Jat reservation, but we managed to persuade voters. We are hopeful we will be successful this time too,” said the source.
For the BJP, Jats in the western part and Brahmins in the eastern part are the key demographics who need to be appeased. A hike in sugar cane prices is pointing the way to go.