New Delhi: The BJP has assigned the task of wooing the agitating farmers of western UP, who are mostly jats, to Union Minister of State Sanjeev Balyan, a Jat leader from Punjab who participated in all 11 round of talks the government held with the farmers.
The private sugar mills in the region may, however, sabotage the BJP's plans to win back the farmers since they have not paid the sugarcane dues of the farmers that were around Rs 10,174 crore until last September and swelled to nearly Rs 13,000 crore.
These mill owners also forced hands of the UP government of Yogi Adityanath in not raising the sugarcane prices that are fixed at Rs 315 a quintal for common variety and Rs 325 for advanced varieties. This may also pose further trouble to the BJP, which is in power in both the Centre and the state.
Balyan was assigned the responsibility after a meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah and national BJP President J P Nadda here on Tuesday. He had a first preliminary round with 20 Jat leaders from the western UP at his residence here on Wednesday and their meeting decided to call meetings of the Khap (community) leaders to sit with them and listen to the issues.
This is to counter the Mahapanchayats taking place in the region almost on a daily basis, attracting huge gatherings as they are sponsored by the Khap leaders of the Jat community to mobilise support for the farmers' movement.
The BJP sources said the leaders, who met Balyan and earlier Shah and Nadda, were frank in admitting that the tide has changed against the party and they would be able to assess the impact in the zila panchayat elections in the next two months.
There are 26 zila panchayats in western UP and the BJP is in power in 25 of them. The Jats have a considerable influence in 18 panchayats.