DAP shortage is BJP’s political problem in UP’s ‘potato belt’

Poornima Joshi | | | Updated on: Nov 29, 2021
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In a region where the party swept the 2017 Assembly polls, farmers are seething with resentment

DAP shortage, steep diesel prices, problems of prolonged monsoon that has disrupted potato and wheat sowing pattern, translated into colourful invective for the BJP luminaries in different rural pockets of the Braj Bhumi.

Resentment against growing input cost and falling incomes were visible among farmers in villages adjoining the glittering Yamuna Expressway and Mathura’s famous Raya Mandi, where they had gathered to sell their bajra, tur dal, paddy, all the way from Aligarh and Hathras.

Farmers’ agitation

This is the potato belt of Western UP, stretching from Mathura, Agra, Hathras and Aligarh, where the farmers’ agitation had not spread. They were quieter compared to the more prosperous, canal-fed ganna (sugarcane) belt that includes Shamli, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Baghpat and Badaut, where farm agitators led by Rakesh Tikait and his Bharatiya Kisan Union held big protest rallies and forged political linkages with the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which is aligning with the Samajwadi Party in the upcoming UP Assembly elections. But while farmers here may not be as prosperous or politically articulate as their brethren in the sugarcane belt, they identify with the agitation and believe that they have “taught a lesson to this anti-farmer” government.

“I’ve bought DAP for ₹1,600-1,700 per bag. It should cost ₹1,200. I need at least four bags per acre for potatoes. I bought in black market because DAP has to be used at the time of sowing. Rain made it worse this year because earlier we would sow potatoes around October and wheat a little later.

“But this time, potato sowing had to be delayed. I don’t know what I was thinking when I voted for the BJP all these years. They have made everything difficult – diesel prices have soared, fertilizer is not available and when it is, it is more expensive,” said Rampal Singh from Pachawar village, Mathura.

High diesel prices

This region is not canal-fed so farmers have to pump the groundwater up for the sowing season. High diesel prices upset their calculations as does unavailability of fertilizers at the right time.

At Raya Mandi, about 10 of them stood around their harvest and hurled abuses at BJP leaders, insisting that videos are recorded when they vent their frustration. In the melee, two youngsters advocated the BJP’s cause.

“You don’t even know what the BJP is. It is not a party, it is our mother,” said Mauni Singh Solankey of Gudera village. He was shouted down by the rest who kept up their tirade. “These people (naming top BJP leaders) are masters of turning tricks. They are liars. We are sick of them. They would be beaten up if they come to my village,” said a villager from Jivanpur in Iglas tehsil, Aligarh district.

The BJP seems to have run into rough weather in the potato belt.

Published on November 30, 2021

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