The farmers agitating against the three controversial land laws have decided not to oppose the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) fortnight long ‘Tiranga Yatra’ on the eve of India’s 75th Independence Day.

This announcement is significant in the backdrop of the massive protests by the farmers across Haryana against BJP leaders and their allies in the Jananayak Janata Party (JJP). Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, and his legislators, have been facing hostile crowds at every other function they have attended.

The farmers are candid in explaining the ‘politics’ of BJP behind this Yatra.

“This Yatra is a desperate attempt by them to try to end their social isolation. It is well known that they have been facing a social boycott in Haryana. They see it as a window to establish direct contact with the masses while being under the impression that it will help them. But this is not the case,” All India Kisan Sabha leader from Haryana, Inderjit said.

Many observers as well as farmers see this Yatra by the BJP as an exercise ahead of the Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) polls that are due in the near future. These polls were postponed earlier because of the pandemic. It is pretty obvious that some of the farmers too are interested in contesting the polls.

“But still the primary aim of the BJP is to put up a bold face before the people. They know that they do not stand any chance in the forthcoming polls given the circumstances that people are not allowing even the helicopter carrying the chief minister to land and the party leaders are facing a social boycott. They are simply in no position to fight,” Inderjit told The Citizen.

“Everybody knows that it is a nationalist programme ahead of Independence Day. Why would anyone oppose it?” asked local farmer leader Suresh Kauth while pointing out that the farmers had observed the death of the great revolutionary Udham Singh on a large scale across the villages of Punjab and Haryana.

Kisan Ekta Morcha had done a Facebook live on July 31 where it pointed that the main agenda of the BJP behind the Yatra was to defame the farmers and finish off the movement being led by them. The speaker said that the BJP’s game plan was to take shelter behind the national tricolor and if there was any opposition to the event, resort to a massive propaganda saying that the farmers have shown disrespect to the flag.

Keeping this in mind, the farmers in a pre-emptive move made a public statement that they would not oppose the Yatra because of the sanctity of the tricolor. The Morcha speakers pointed out that the farmers had always respected and honoured the Indian national flag with their lives.

According to the reports in the local media, the BJP aims to reach out to its supporters right up to the booth level through this Yatra which is expected to be a mega show of ‘nationalism and patriotism’ with the top political leadership participating in it.

All the 90 assembly constituencies will be covered under the programme where the Yatra will be carried out on foot, cycles, motorcycles, tractors or cars covering up to a distance of at least 15 km in each segment.

Meanwhile, the farmers are going full throttle with their protests and alternative Parliament at Jantar Mantar where speakers highlight issues of justice and rights on a daily basis.

“The biggest achievement of this entire exercise is that we have been able to reach out to the farmers and common people. We have been able to explain why the three controversial laws are anti people and why there is a need for a legal guarantee on minimum support price (MSP). The farmers from states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha do not understand what MSP is because there are no Mandis there. In any case, the MSP remains a white elephant because hardly six per cent of farmers are covered under it and it will continue to be so until there is a legal guarantee for it. We have been able to communicate why these laws are not good for the people,” Kauth said.

Meanwhile, there have been reports of industrialists from Bahadurgarh approaching Khattar seeking removal of the blockade at Tikri border saying the industry had suffered a total turnover loss of around Rs 20,000 crore in the past seven months and many small units had shut down or were on the verge of it.

They reportedly said that this is because of no alternative road available for the movement of goods and the supply of raw materials was badly hit. The problem has been aggravated by the monsoon as the even the unmetalled roads in the villages stand inundated hitting the movement of vehicles.

Kauth responded to this saying, “We have no intention of putting anyone to inconvenience and are sorry for the hardships caused. But it is for the government to convince Prime Minister Narendra Modi to talk to us and resolve the issue. We were never keen to sit on the roads. We were heading towards the Ramlila Maidan in Delhi. It is the government that compelled us to sit on the borders of the national capital. Our fight is just for the repealing of the anti people laws while guaranteeing the MSP for the farm produce.”

The farmers have claimed that they have got several toll plaza gates vacated in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh and this drive will be intensified at other places in the state as well with more toll plazas being made free.