Ground report from Baghpat: Farmers nurse massive resentment against BJP; RLD candidates set to post wins

BJP candidates are facing massive opposition in all the three assembly constituencies of Baghpat district. The situation, especially the mass support for SP-RLD alliance, has made BJP frantic

Visual from the year-long farmers protest at Delhi borders
Visual from the year-long farmers protest at Delhi borders

Aas Mohd Kaif

The veteran BJP candidate who has contested many times from the Siwalkhas assembly seat of Baghpat today has to face protests by people when he visits the constituency. But then, the truth is that many BJP candidates in Uttar Pradesh are getting to hear something unsavoury whenever they go among the farmers.

Some part of Siwalakhas assembly constituency falls in Meerut district but its environment is similar to Baghpat. The reason for this is that the assembly seat’s populace is purely rural and it can truly be called a farmer-dominated assembly seat.

This year, Ghulam Mohammad is the candidate of the SP-RLD alliance while BJP has fielded Manindar Pal Singh. The candidates of the Congress and BSP are Jagdish Sharma and Nanhe Pradhan respectively.

According to locals, the contest here is directly between the BJP and the RLD.

Chaudhary Mange of Khirwa village of Siwalkhas assembly constituency says that the constituency has a majority of Jats besides Muslims. 80 percent of the people are farmers. “Delhi is not far from us. We have seen the entire agitation. We have been cheated. The son of a minister in the Union government has mowed down farmers. But the minister has not been removed yet. This gives a very bad feeling to us,” he says.

He points out that the FIRs filed against the farmers for the developments in Delhi on January 26 last year have not been withdrawn yet. “The price of sugarcane is not being hiked. Farmers are not being paid. The crop has not doubled but the cost has doubled. The people in the village have decided to bring in a government that works for interests of the farmers. Those who are opposing the BJP are angry. They are waiting for the elections; their resentment will be reflected in the poll results,” he says.

BJP candidates are facing massive opposition in all the three assembly constituencies of Baghpat district. The situation, especially the mass support for SP-RLD alliance, has made the BJP almost desperate.

Kuldeep Tewatia, a farmer from Baraut, says that the election in Chhaprauli is one-sided as the farmers are united. Almost everyone is either a farmer or farm labourers, he says, adding that the BJP is set to be wiped out from the constituency.

“There will be a wonderful display of farmers’ unity in Baghpat. The BJP is trying to polarize the electorate. Baghpat is different from other districts. We do not have an urban environment. There was no violence in Baghpat even during the Muzaffarnagar riots. We cannot be divided on communal lines. Jayant Chaudhary was defeated in the Lok Sabha elections, and now we will extract revenge for that too. In the district panchayat elections, Baghpat had given a message, now we have to give another message,” says Tewatia.

The roads leading to Baghpat are broken, with huge potholes everywhere. There is waterlogging at many places on the road and everything is muddy. It takes a lot of effort to get a car out of this mud.

“The car of the present government will also get stuck in this mud,” says Arif Rajput, a youth man from Baraut. He says that the most interesting election in Baghpat district will be in Baghpat city seat itself.

Ahmeda Hameed is contesting from this seat as the candidate of RLD and he is up against BJP’s Yogesh Dhama. This is the only seat where BJP is able to campaign.

Arif says that Yogesh Dhama's behaviour is good, but it does not mean that people are happy with the work of his government. “Just Yogesh Dhama is not being opposed as like other BJP candidates, as in Siwalkhas, the farmers are angry with the BJP government,” he says.

Ahmed Hameed is the son of Nawab Kokab Hameed, a well-known face of Baghpat. Nawab Kokab Hameed has been a minister in the government. Ahmed Hameed has lost the elections twice, but this time there is some sympathy towards him. Arif points out that this is beside the point. “The real issue is of the farmers. Their issues have a very wide impact. Being close to Delhi, Baghpat has witnessed agitation. There are some other issues but the big issue is related to farmers,” he says.

The narrative in Chhaprauli in Baghpat district is a bit different. One can see eagerness to respond to the lathi charge carried out on Jayant Choudhary in Hathras. A youth from Mulsan village, Sanjay, says that the stick was hit on our head, not on Jayant Chaudhary's back. “Now the time has come to respond to that,” he says.

There is talk of Jayant Chaudhary everywhere. Chhaprauli is the stronghold of former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh and Chaudhary Ajit Singh. Sahendra Ramala of RLD was the sitting MLA here, but this time RLD has fielded Ajay Kumar.

In this assembly seat with about 3.5 lakh voters, the contest seems fairly one-sided.

Madanpal, a farmer of Chhaprauli, says that the government has to be changed for the sake of Chaudhary. “This government has created a lot of trouble for us. This is the government of the capitalists, we want a government that works for the benefit of the farmers,” he says.

(Translated from Hindi by Abhir More)

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