With khaps in western Uttar Pradesh throwing their weight behind the ongoing protest against the Centre's new farm laws, BJP leader and Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan on Wednesday said the issue has become "emotional" and acknowledged that his party and the government might not have been able to explain the benefits of the legislations to farmers.
Balyan, who has been criss-crossing the region for a week as part of an outreach effort and has met local people and heads of khaps (cast councils), told PTI, "Farmers are facing problems today and no one can deny that. They are vulnerable and need protection from the government."
The farmers have some genuine issues such as prices of sugarcane have not been increased for the last few years and that need to be resolved, says Balyan, who belongs to the dominant Jaat community engaged in farming in western Uttar Pradesh.
Asserting that a "wrong perception" has been spread among farmers, the minister said, "A false narrative has been created that farmers with the implementation of these laws would lose their land and wouldn't get support price for their crops. And perhaps we might not have been able to make them understand the positives of these laws."
Asked about some clauses of the laws which are vehemently opposed by the protesting farmers, the BJP leader said the Centre is open to amendments.
Responding to questions of the way ahead, Balyan hoped for an early resolution of the issue.
Talking to PTI in his office with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's picture on the wall behind him and that of Chaudhary Charan Singh on the side, Balyan said, "I will raise the issues faced by farmers with both the Centre and the state government."
Charan Singh was one of the tallest Jaat leaders, hailing from western Uttar Pradesh. His son Ajit Singh, the supremo of RLD, was defeated by Balyan in the last Lok Sabha elections in Muzaffarnagar.
Talking about the next assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and the possible impact of the farmers' protest, Balyan said, "On the back of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity and Yogi Adityanath-led state government's performance, the party will get good result from the region."
In the wake of mahapanchayts by Jaats against the farm laws in the Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, the BJP top brass had told party MLAs, MPs and other leaders from these states to proactively reach out to the farmers and khaps.
They were also asked to make clear any misconceptions about the farm laws.
Farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at Delhi's borders against the laws for nearly last three months since November 28 last year and demanding complete repeal of these three laws.
They are protesting against the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.
The government has maintained that the laws will benefit the farmers.
The government had held 11 rounds of negotiation with protesting farmers which remained inconclusive.