In the middle of the ongoing farmers’ agitation for the repeal of the three new Union farm laws, the Congress has been working at a fast pace to strengthen its political base. The party feels that in the western districts of Uttar Pradesh by coming out in favour of the farmer protests, it is preparing the political ground for the upcoming panchayat (civic) polls and Assembly elections.

In order to support the farmers in their protest, the Congress’s own ‘anti-farm laws’ movement is going to kick-off from Wednesday. The party’s National General Secretary and Uttar Pradesh party in-charge, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, will embark on a four-day programme in the state. She will address rallies in Saharanpur on Wednesday, Meerut on February 13, Bijnor on February 16 and a ‘kisan Panchayat’ in Mathura on February 18. Farmer leaders may also join Priyanka in these events.

Priyanka Vadra, who went to Rampur to visit the family of a farmer who died during the protest, is likely to gain an edge by holding a ‘Kisan Panchayat’ in Uttar Pradesh. She will attend four ‘Kisan Panchayats’ in the state, thus spearheading the Congress’ campaign from western UP.

According to former Congress MLA Imran Masood, Priyanka will reach the panchayat at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Seating arrangements for nearly 15,000 people have been made at the venue in Saharanpur.

In western UP, the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) is also all set to gain political mileage from the farmers’ agitation, say analysts. After Mathura and Baraut, crowds thronging the panchayats in Shamli are making other political parties restless. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) are silent, but the Congress is desperate to gain some political mileage. Wherever there is no presence of the RLD, the Congress wants to influence the farmers towards it.

At the same time, a strategy has also been chalked out to stop the RLD from trying to dent the Congress’s traditional strongholds.

Ahead of the UP Assembly elections next year, the Congress is working to gain a major vote bank through the anti-farm laws movement by campaigning at the grassroot level in the western UP districts where the party’s base is strong.

–IANS

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