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Business News/ News / India/  Farmers' Protest could be BJP's Achilles Heel ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha Elections. Will INDIA bloc take the opportunity?

Farmers' Protest could be BJP's Achilles Heel ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha Elections. Will INDIA bloc take the opportunity?

The farmers' protest could affect PM Modi's BJP as it threatens their stronghold in the Hindi heartland and their efforts to impress India's southern states.

Ambala: A farmer at Shambhu border (Punjab-Haryana) for the farmers' 'Delhi Chalo' march, near Ambala (PTI)Premium
Ambala: A farmer at Shambhu border (Punjab-Haryana) for the farmers' 'Delhi Chalo' march, near Ambala (PTI)

Delhi is likely to witness a rerun of the Farmers' Protest, that took place three years ago, as 200 unions staged demonstration against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, and launched the Dilli Chalo march. Delhi has been fortified as farmers march on foot, in tractors towards the national capital, only months ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections.

Three years ago, farmers from Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh had staged a demonstration, wherein they sat at Tikri border for months, in bitter cold, until Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to revoke the three farm laws. They also demanded a guaranteed imposition of the  Minimum Support Price (MSP).

The protest that turned violent upon attempting to enter Delhi, saw a massive stir on 26 January, 2021, when a section of the tractor Rally, or Chakka Jam, deflected and moved towards the Red Fort.

On 19 November 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation announced that the Centre had decided to repeal the three farm laws passed by the Parliament the previous year.

However, a renewed farmers' protest, the only one considered to have been able to stand to the PM Modi government, would be a test of governance for the Modi government and the opposition INDIA bloc, right ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha Polls.

How Farmers' Protest could affect PM Modi's BJP?

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is looking a third straight win in the seat of governance, equating Jawaharlal Nehru's feat, the farmers' protest stands as a worry, so close to the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections for the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

Even though the three Assembly win for the saffron party in December 2023 may have buoyed their confidence, as chance for worry retains with the farmers' protest.

It is to be noted that the farmers staging protests hail from politically crucial states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, all in the Hindi heartland. Apart from them farmers from Tamil Nadu have also joined, Tamil Nadu, a state Pm Modi has failed to make headwinds despite the 'Sengol' move. This means the farmers protest jeopardizes PM Modi's strong hold over the Hindi heartland, as well as his efforts to impress India's southern states.

Punjab sends 13 members to the Lok Sabha. BJP would lose face if the farmers' protest escalates, thereby loosing the Punjab vote bank to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) or Congress. According to Hindustan Times report, there were talks of Shiromani Akali Dal being in talks with the BJP for a possible return to the NDA fold, but SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal denied.

The BJP, according to Election Commission data had a vote share of 9.73 per cent in the state in 2019 and just two seats.

Haryana would also witness BJP defeat in case of an escalation. In 2019 BJP had won all 10 Lok Sabha seats in the state. However, the state has also seen a significant amount number of farmers participate in the protest in 2020, and in 2024.

The farmers' protests have also witnessed participation from Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha. The BJP had won 72 seats in 2014 and 62 in 2019 general elections.

Why the Farmers' Protest is important for INDIA bloc?

The Farmers' Protest might be the Achilles hell for BJP, however, for the opposition to survive, INDIA bloc needs to become the Trojan prince Paris.

The Farmers' Protest poses the last chance for the INDIA bloc to make any impact before the 97 crore voters cast their votes in the Lok Sabha elections.

Staring at an existential crisis following exits by Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) and the RLD, the INDIA bloc is also dealing with its partners like Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal announcing their solo plans for Lok Sabha polls.

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi took to social media platform X to slam PM Modi over the farmers' protest.

“Modi, who 'cultivates lies' day and night, has only cheated the farmers in the last 10 years. By promising double the income, Modi also made the farmers yearn for MSP. Due to inflation, farmers' debts increased by 60% due to not getting fair prices for their crops - as a result, about 30 farmers lost their lives every day," Gandhi said.

The Congress is hoping to make its presence felt in the Hindi heartland, where it has been decimated by the BJP. The grand old party is in power only in Himachal Pradesh. However, the Congress has some reasons to smile in the southern citadel, where it rules Karnataka and Telangana and is an alliance partner of DMK in Tamil Nadu.

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Published: 13 Feb 2024, 02:57 PM IST
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