With assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh just a year away, there is a fierce competition amongst the opposition leaders to show their concern for the farmers in the state.
Priyanka Vadra, general secretary of the Congress party, visited Rampur in Uttar Pradesh in the first week of February to take part in the mourning ritual of Navrit Singh, a 'protestor' who died in the tractor rally in Delhi on January 26.
In quick succession, she started visiting different districts of western Uttar Pradesh to take part in different Kisan Mahapanchayats. She visited Saharanpur on February 10, Bijnor and Meerut on February 15. She will be visiting Mathura and Muzaffarnagar on February 19 and 20 respectively.
Not to be left behind, Aam Aadmi Party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced his plan to take part in a Kisan Mahapanchayat in Meerut at the end of the month.
These leaders have been demanding that the union government take back the new farm laws. The government agreed to negotiate some changes in the laws but ruled out the complete rollback.
For about three months now, farmers from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh have been protesting at the Delhi border against the three progressive farm laws passed by the union government.
The opposition parties are hoping to cash in on the anger amongst the farming community in these parts.
Recently, Kejriwal announced his party’s plan to contest the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. Earlier attempts by his party to expand its wings outside Delhi have failed miserably, with the only exception being Punjab.
Not only did the party lose elections, but nearly all their candidates also forfeited their deposits too. In Punjab, in the last assembly elections in 2017, AAP won 20 of 117 seats in the assembly and became the main opposition party in the state.
Kejriwal called a special one-day session of the Delhi assembly in December and tore the copies of the new farm laws as a mark of protest. He has also been providing free internet connectivity at the protesting site at the border.
The Modi government at the centre passed the three progressive farm laws last year, fulfilling a long-standing demand of not just his party but many others in the opposition too.
When the protests started in November last year, the government made many attempts to engage with the farm leaders but to no avail. Many rounds of negotiations also failed.
The protesting farm leaders declared they’re ready to sit at the Delhi border for many months and won’t go back till the laws are repealed.
With the majority of farmers’ back in their villages, it remains to be seen how much acceptance do the opposition leaders find in the community.