Bhopal: Farmers in a Madhya Pradesh village asked two BJP legislators to stay away from their area, signalling that peasant anger against the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government has not died down even nearly a month since the Mandsaur firing left six people dead.
The stunning rebuff, over two days and at two places about 275km apart, meant the anger had spread from the seething epicentre of the farmer unrest in the BJP-ruled state.
Dileep Singh Parihar, MLA from Neemach, was in Rabadiya village in the district Sunday when a group of farmers blocked the Kisan Sandesh Yatra, a state-wide campaign Chouhan had launched late last month in a bid to reconnect with the peasant community.
Eyewitness accounts said members of the Patidar farming community asked Parihar to retreat. When local BJP leader Radhye Shyam Patidar tried to intervene, some youngsters raised slogans against the state BJP.
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Patidar later admitted that the response of the farmers could be a result of "some spill-over effect of the Mandsaur firing". "We prevailed upon them to hear us. There was nothing untoward," he told The Telegraph.
Neemach adjoins Mandsaur, where police shot dead farmers agitating for loan relief and minimum support price for crops on June 6.
MLA Parihar sought to play down the incident. "I was among my own people. There was some sloganeering but when I addressed them, they heard me in attention. The entire area is full of staunch BJP supporters," he insisted.
On Friday, Jaswant Singh Hada, BJP MLA from Shujalpur, about 275km from Neemach, was on his home turf too when he got into a heated argument. Hada had gone to his home constituency to address grievances of farmers when some of them started asking him about the police firing. Hada lost his cool.
Some youngsters then confronted the legislator, saying he was an elected representative and should respond to their questions or avoid visiting the constituency.
Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh are due in November next year and Chouhan, sensing disquiet among the farming community, has asked all the 165 party MLAs, including ministers, to visit their constituencies as part of the Kisan Sandesh Yatra.
The outreach is aimed at reconnecting with farmers and showcasing schemes the government has lined up for the community.
Chouhan has been claiming that the farm unrest was "instigated" by "anti-social elements".
The Opposition Congress too has launched a campaign, the Kisan Swabhiman Yatra, to express solidarity with farmers. The party has asked its 56 MLAS to visit their constituencies before July 17, the day the monsoon session of the Assembly starts.
-The Telegraph, Calcutta