Agriculture and allied sectors account for roughly 25 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) in Uttar Pradesh and sustain direct and indirect livelihood of almost 70 per cent of the population.
Nonetheless, issues of agriculture, farm and farmers
have taken a backseat in political campaigning by major political parties with topics revolving around demonetisation, minorities and law and order taking centre-stage in run up to the coming UP polls.
The ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) led by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav
has been at the forefront in attacking the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the Centre for demonetisation
alleging it had caused widespread miseries and hardships.
In his election rallies, Yadav is vociferously urging the electorate to teach Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a lesson by voting for the SP-Congress alliance.
Although Yadav makes oblique reference to agriculture and his pro-farm policies and schemes, his more potent speeches are reserved for criticising the Modi government over demonetisation
and ‘acche din
’ catchphrase of the BJP.
On the other hand, Mayawati-piloted Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) alleged Modi government rolled out demonetisation
after allowing the capitalists to park their money in safe avenues.
Besides, she has been cautioning Muslims against voting for SP and reminding them of the communal riots and bad law and order prevalent in UP under the SP rule. She maintains that the SP government is hands-in-glove with BJP and works in tandem to keep BSP away from power.
alleges if BJP comes to power it will scrap Dalits’ reservations. The issues related to farmers
or agriculture seldom find mention in her speeches, since the majority of her voters belong to the marginal sections, landless labourers etc, who have little or no land holdings.
Interestingly, sugarcane, which supports almost 5 million farmers
in UP and generates over Rs 30,000 crore through production of sugar, ethanol, spirits, power and gur is largely not being cited in her election campaigning. There are only stray references to the cane arrears.
Congress, which is fighting 105 seats in UP under a pact with SP, which is contesting 298 of the total 403 assembly seats, has revisited its election strategy.
Last year, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi undertook a month-long campaign in rural UP to rally the support of farmers
through ‘khat sabhas’
and promising farm load waiver if voted to power. The party had announced former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit as its CM candidate for the state.
However, surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) and demonetisation
altered the UP political dynamics. Later, the power feud in SP compelled Akhilesh to seek partnership with Congress, which was more than eager to oblige.
The seven phases polling in UP has been slated on February 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, March 4 and 8 respectively. The counting of votes would be held on March 11 for all.