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Farmers Protest: The Importance of Mahapanchayats in Western UP and Haryana | India News

NEW DELHI: On January 28, when an emotional Rakesh Tikait said that he would sit on a hunger strike and drink water only when he comes from his village, it was not just water that he was looking for one night when the protest was being held in Ghazipur. going downhill.
It was an appeal to his fellow farmers in western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to come and give a much-needed boost to the uproar against the Center’s three controversial farm laws.
Later that night, a loaded crowd of farmers from UP and Haryana invaded the Ghazipur protest site.
Clearly, Tikait’s emotional appeal worked. However, Union leader Bhartiya Kisan did not stop at that. On January 29, he decided to call a mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar.
The overwhelming response to the Muzaffarnagar mahapanchayat perhaps established a new model for the show of force by farmers, who have been defying the government’s strategy to tire them.
A week has passed since then and peasant leaders have carried out a series of mahapanchayats in places like Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Meerut, Bijnor, Baghpat, Dausa and Jind.
BKU leader Rakesh Tikait, Swaraj India president Yogendra Yadav, and Gurnam Singh Charuni will also address a Kisan Mahapanchayat in Sunhera-Junhera (Haryana – Rajasthan border) in the Nuh region on Sunday.
The response has been encouraging and thousands of farmers have rallied against the farm laws.
What is a mahapanchayat
In western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, the mahapanchayats are sacrosanct and have an important bulwark in the politics of these states.
Panchayat is an assembly of five village leaders and is held mainly to address agricultural, social or electoral issues.
A mahapanchayat is a gathering of people from around 10 to 12 villages. These meetings are conducted by the panchayats of Khap village.
Outlawed by the Supreme Court, Khaps has faced criticism for his regressive diktats.
Interestingly, the mahapanchayats have played a varied role and also entered the scene during the 2013 communal riots in Muzaffarnagar.
“Our people respect what Khap decides for us and we will abide by it,” Union leader Bhartiya Kisan Virendra Dagar told TOI. “Perhaps it has kept us together. We listen to the concern of our people and their problems are solved.”
According to Kisan Shakti Sangh agricultural leader Pushpendra Chaudhary, mahapanchat is playing a crucial role in mobilizing farmers.
“Farmers are not allowed to visit Delhi and these regional panchayats are being held to gain support for the movement,” he said.
“We mobilize farmers from 10 to 12 villages in a mahapanchayat and inform them about our demands from the Center. We tell them the number of family members needed from each family, the number of tractors needed, etc. We discuss the things we have. to decide for the movement “. Puspendra said.
“At least 10,000 farmers are visiting the protest sites around Delhi of one lakh of farmers attending each of these mahapanchayats,” Chaudhary added.
We will perform these mahapanchayats regularly, he added.
The 2022 elections in Uttar Pradesh and the relevance of mahapanchayat
While the success of the mahapanchayats in UP and Haryana has given a boost to the farmers’ movement, it may be of concern to the governments of the two states.
Mahapanchayats and their decisions have a strong and lasting impact on the people, even more so in UP and Haryana states.
“People have great respect for the decisions these mahapanchayats make and it is here that we decide who we have to vote for during the elections,” said Virendra Dagar.
It is like a daughter who obeys her father, said Kisan Shakti Sangh farmer leader Pushpendra.
The concept of mahapanchayats is an integral part of the Jat community. They have also become a base for electoral support and immense political influence.
The Jat community is found in considerable numbers in 19 districts in the western region of Uttar Pradesh and constitutes about 2% of the state’s population.
This stronghold was well used by the Bharatiya Janata Party during the 2017 assembly elections.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won 20 seats out of the 27 Lok Sabha electoral districts of the western UP region and 66 out of the total 76 seats in the region in the last assembly elections held in 2017.
With leaders like Tikait acknowledging that he voted for the BJP in the 2017 elections, political parties must consider the electoral impact of the farmers’ agitation.
Uttar Pradesh, which will go to the polls in 2022, may experience a ripple effect from the farmers’ movement.
If the farmers’ problem is not solved, participation in the Jat vote can become a crucial factor in various seats in the state.
Impact of mahapanchayat on Haryana politics
And it is not just Uttar Pradesh that is witnessing the mobilization through mahapanchyats. Farmers in Haryana are also following the same pattern.
Meanwhile, the Jind mahapanchayat was a gathering of all castes and was attended by farmers, including the Jats, who make up 29% of Haryana’s population.
They have a strong presence in about 40 of the 90 seats in the assembly and are in good political and economic position.
In around 53 years of its existence, Haryana has been ruled by Jat chief ministers for 33 years, while non-Jat CMs have run the state for only 20 years.
Manohar Lal Khattar, who does not belong to Jat, has been unable to pacify the farmers’ movement in the state. His partner in the alliance, Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), is also under heavy pressure from local Jat leaders to resign from the alliance with BJP in the state over controversial farm laws.
The pressure will be overcome with more mahapanchayats.
The protests in Haryana also witnessed a series of resignations from people such as JJP leader Inderjit Singh Goraya, BJP’s Rampal Majra and the reclusive INLD MLA Abhay Singh Chautala.
If JJP collapses under pressure, the coalition government in Haryana will fall. And that won’t be music to the BJP’s ears.

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