MP Varun Gandhi – dumped from the BJP’s National Executive after speaking on behalf of farmers protesting the new laws and calling for justice for those killed in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri – has called for a “rethink” of the country’s agriculture policies.
The Lok Sabha MP from UP’s Pilibhit tweeted a video of a farmer from Lakhimpur who said he had been forced to burn his paddy crop because it had remained unsold for 15 days.
“A farmer from Uttar Pradesh – Samodh Singh – was going from mandi (wholesale market) to mandi for 15 days trying to sell his crop. After failing to do so, in desperation, he burned his entire crop,” Mr Gandhi wrote as he shared the video.
The video shows a man – presumably Mr Singh – throwing kerosene on his crop and, despite some trying to hold him back, he sets fire to the whole thing.
“What has this system reduced farmers to? We need to rethink our agriculture policy,” Mr Gandhi, who is the only BJP leader, so far, to speak up on the Lakhimpur Kheri deaths, for which Ashish Mishra, the son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra, is an accused and is in jail.
उत्तर प्रदेश के किसान श्री समोध सिंह पिछले 15 दिनों से अपनी धान की फसल को बेचने के लिए मंडियों में मारे-मारे फिर रहे थे, जब धान बिका नहीं तो निराश होकर इसमें स्वयं आग लगा दी।
इस व्यवस्था ने किसानों को कहाँ लाकर खड़ा कर दिया है? कृषि नीति पर पुनर्चिंतन आज की सबसे बड़ी ज़रूरत है। pic.twitter.com/z3EjYw9rIz
— Varun Gandhi (@varungandhi80) October 23, 2021
The BJP MP has been particularly critical of his party in UP; on Thursday he tweeted photos of floods in the state’s Terai region and slammed the Yogi Adityanath administration.
“Much of the Terai is flooded. Donating dry rations by hand so no family is hungry till this calamity ends. It is painful that when the common man needs the system the most, he is left to fend for himself. If every response is individual-led then what does ‘governance’ mean?”
Much of the Terai is badly flooded. Donating dry rations by hand so that no family is hungry till this calamity ends. It’s painful that when the common man needs the system the most,he’s left to fend for himself.If every response is individual-led then what does ‘governance’ mean pic.twitter.com/P2wF7Tb431
— Varun Gandhi (@varungandhi80) October 21, 2021
Uttar Pradesh votes for a new Assembly and government next year, with the BJP eager to retain control of the politically key state ahead of general elections in 2024.
Mr Gandhi last week tweeted another video – of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in which the late former Prime Minister warns the government against intimidating farmers. The video is reportedly from 1980 and Mr Vajpayee is cautioning the then Indira Gandhi government against repressing farmers.
“… warn the government against intimidating farmers. Don’t try to scare us… Farmers are not going to be scared. We don’t want to use farmers’ movement for politics…” Mr Vajpayee says in the video.
“Wise words from a big-hearted leader,” Mr Gandhi commented.
Wise words from a big-hearted leader… pic.twitter.com/xlRtznjFAx
— Varun Gandhi (@varungandhi80) October 14, 2021
Mr Gandhi has also tweeted videos of farmers being run over in Lakhmipur, tagging it “murder” and saying that the video was enough to “shake the soul”.
The farmers’ months-long protest against the centre’s new farm laws has formed the backdrop for a series of hostile clashes between the ruling BJP and the opposition, including a fierce stand-off in Parliament that included physical confrontations in the final week.
The protests have also included violent clashes between farmers and police in various states, most notably BJP-ruled Haryana. The violence has left dozens injured on both sides and drawn scathing criticism from the opposition, which has accused the centre of using brutal force against farmers.