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BJP’s poll campaign in Uttar Pradesh will focus in a big way on impressing upon the state’s farmers to avoid being “misled” by opposition forces and drive in the message that it is the BJP which has done the most for them.

The farmer agitation on Delhi’s borders and its spillover effect in West UP is making the Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance (SP-RLD) fancy its chances in this region again. A controversial cartoon regarding protesting farmers tweeted by the UP BJP unit on Thursday was criticized by both SP and RLD. The BJP, alive to this challenge, is planning a big outreach among the farmers to ensure their support remains with the party.

In the meeting with BJP MPs in Delhi over the last two days, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has stressed upon the point that the opposition “propaganda” amongst farmers needs to be countered with facts. The CM took time out from Delhi on Thursday to visit Baghpat, an RLD stronghold.

A booklet distributed amongst all BJP MPs at the meetings has a detailed section on farmers, spelling out that over 78 lakh farmers in UP had got Rs 78,000 crore after their produce was bought on the Minimum Support Price (MSP) since 2017, which was much more than in previous regimes.

The booklet is going to be distributed widely in the rural areas. The government is also telling farmers that 45 lakh sugarcane farmers have got Rs 1.4 lakh crore in dues in the last four-and-a-half-years, which is also the highest in any earlier government. Some BJP MPs have meanwhile asked the party leadership to consider increasing procurement price of sugarcane.

The BJP is also stressing that Rs 32,500 crore has come to nearly 2.5 crore farmers in UP under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme while Rs 2,208 crore was given as damages to over 25 lakh farmers under the PM Crop Insurance Scheme after they suffered losses to their crops due to natural calamities. BJP’s poll promise of farm loan waiver has also been fulfilled with Rs 36,000 crore waived off that benefitted 86 lakh farmers, says BJP.

The booklet also says that there has been an increase in 3.77 lakh hectares of irrigated area in UP since 2017, leading to increased farmer produce.

The Opposition is also banking on the farmer agitation to build momentum against the Yogi government in the state. Both the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party MPs, including Akhilesh Yadav and Satish Chandra Mishra, have been rallying for the farmer cause in Parliament. Both these parties have joined the broader opposition ranks in pressing for ‘guaranteed MSP’ as majority of crop produce in UP is not bought on MSP.

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