Kisan manch may hurt BJP in Mandi, Jubbal-Kotkhai

Subhash Rajta

Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 15

The Sanyukt Kisan Manch, a group of apple growers, can hurt the BJP's chances in the Mandi and Jubbal-Kotkhai byelections if the government does not address its issues immediately.

The manch is miffed with the government for not addressing its concerns. "The government has not even called us for talks on our issues. We will not forget to bring this up when BJP candidates come to seek our votes," said a manch leader.

To exert pressure on the government, the manch has called a meeting on October 19. "Among other issues, we will talk about the elections and the role we can play," said manch convener Harish Chauhan, who has been with the BJP for decades now.

Interestingly, manch members come from different political affiliations. Some are from the Congress, some from the Left, and some owe allegiance to the BJP. In fact, BJP's Jubbal-Kotkhai candidate Neelam Sariak was part of the gathering when the manch was formed in Shimla.

"The government is trying to dismiss the manch as a Left-Congress front. It's not the case as many common and neutral apple growers are part of it. They are here to ensure that they are not victimised by market forces. If the government refuses to address our genuine concerns, the election prospects of the BJP will be hurt," said Shiv Pratap Bhimta, an apple grower of Kotkhai.

A manch office-bearer claimed that the BJP's chances would not only be hurt in Jubbal-Kotkhai but also in the Mandi Lok Sabha byelection. "We have a good presence in several apple-producing pockets of the Mandi constituency. Also, many vegetable growers in the Arki constituency are also members of the manch. The BJP may end up regretting not taking us seriously and addressing the concerns of the apple growers," he said.

Issues not addressed, farmers unhappy

We have a good presence in several apple-producing pockets of the Mandi constituency. Also, many vegetable growers in Arki are members of the manch. The BJP may end up regretting not taking us seriously and addressing the concerns of the apple growers. — Office-bearer of Sanyukt Kisan Manch

Courtesy: Tribune News Service
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