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Mainstream, VOL 62 No 20, May 18, 2024

2024 General Election: Farmers’ Agitation and the Reshaping of the Electoral Landscape in Haryana | Mahabir Jaglan

Saturday 25 May 2024


Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has had a dream run in Haryana during last two Loksabha elections. It was a marginal political force till 2009 polls in the state as then it could garner only 12 percent votes and that too in alliance with the regional party Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). But in 2014 it contested the election in alliance with Haryana Janhit Congress and won 7 out of 10 parliamentary seats in the state with a quantum jump in its vote share as it got 41 percent of total votes polled. This was mainly at the cost of the Congress party whose vote share abruptly declined from 42 percent in 2009 to 23 percent in 2014. The anti-corruption movement of 2011 had its wide impact on the politics of Haryana and it was reaped to the fullest by BJP in 2014 general election. INLD was also a major political force in the state till 2014 as it won Hisar parliamentary seat and polling overall 24 percent of votes in the state. The 2019 Loksabha election was contested in the background of the Pulwama terror attack and Balakot air strike and this time BJP made clean sweep as it won all 10 Loksabha seats in the state and many of its candidates defeated Congress candidates by huge margins. BJP accounted for about 58 percent of total polled votes, recording a 17.4 percentage point gain over its 2014 vote share. Congress vote share also got enhanced by 5.6 percentage points between 2014 and 2019 elections but the combined vote share of INLD and its offshoot Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) which then allied with Aam Aadami Party (AAP) dwindled by 17.6 percentage points. It may be safely inferred from these statistics that the windfall electoral gain of BJP in the 2019 poll was mainly at the cost of INLD vote loss. Furthermore, as INLD vote base has mainly revolved around peasantry, the unusually high vote share of BJP in 2019 poll was the result of large scale shift of farmer votes in its favour.

Now, the biggest challenge for BJP in 2024 Loksabha election is to retain the peasantry votes it gained in 2019. Although there are multiple factors that are likely to adversely affect BJP performance in the present election but main among them would be the farmers’ unrest over the farm policies of the government, the high unemployment rate, high inflation, etc. It is the ongoing farmers’ unrest that has dynamics and momentum to turn a sizeable section of peasantry voters away from BJP candidates. In the present situation in all probability agitating farmers and anti-establishment votes are likely to converge in favour of INDIA alliance candidates of Congress and AAP in the wake of opposition parties such as INLD, JJP and BSP are largely a depleted political force in the state,. However, the spatial dimension and intensity of vote convergence in favour of INDIA alliance candidates would be determined by the areas of influence of the farmers’ movement (2020-2021) in the state against three farm laws of the Union Government.

The protest landscape of farmers’ agitation in Haryana was broadly comprised the action space of protesting farmers, i.e. the dharna sites at Delhi border, protest sites at toll plazas, and the catchment area from where farmers were drawn to the protest sites. Initially, the catchment area of agitation was largely confined to the agriculturally developed north-eastern region of the state. Being beneficiaries of paddy and wheat procurement on minimum support price, the farmers here were concerned about dismantling the mandis and procurement system. But as the agitation intensified, almost all the road toll plazas in northern, central, and western parts of Haryana were converted into picketing spots by the local farmers, signifying the spatial diffusion and decentralization of agitation in the interior parts of the state. Meanwhile, as the boycott and protests against the ruling party leaders swept across the state, the epicentre of the agitation shifted from the northeastern region to central and western parts of the state. The discontent among the peasantry against the JJP leadership for joining the state BJP government which was seen supporting the new farm laws and repressive measures of the central government led to an intensification of farmers’ agitation in the central (Bangar) and western (Bagar) tracts of the state. However, the agitation did not diffuse much in south Haryana except few pockets in the Palwal district and Mewat region. It was mainly due to then overarching political influence of BJP in Ahirwal region.

After the announcement of the Loksabha poll 2024, the farmers’ discontent with the ruling party BJP and its erstwhile ally JJP is most visible in the protest landscape of north and central Haryana. The electoral landscape in this area is marked by boycotts and questioning of the candidates of these parties by farmers following the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) convention in Jind on April 28 which gave a call to oppose and punish the ‘anti-farmer and anti-people’ BJP regime in the forthcoming election. SKM activists have carried out even campaigns to impress upon the Congress leadership to field the candidates with the record of actively supporting the farmers’ cause. They have influenced the selection process of the Congress candidates in at least four constituencies, three of which are seen to be Jat-dominated. It’s the first time that the farmer identity has overshadowed the caste identity in these constituencies. Consequently, probably it is the first time that the Congress party has fielded only two Jat candidates in a parliamentary election in the state.

It’s not only the north, central and western Haryana; the impact of farmers’ agitation on the 2024 parliamentary poll will also be seen in the south in Palwal district of Faridabad constituency and Nuh district of Gurugram constituency. Recently, the withdrawal of three independent MLAs of rural constituencies from the state BJP government is also linked to the impact of farmers’ agitation. Their constituencies are part of the farmers’ protest landscape, these independent MLAs have realized that their best prospects of winning the forthcoming assembly poll lies in garnering the support of farmers. Whatever, be the final result, this parliamentary election will be known for having a discernible imprint of the farmers’ movement on the electoral landscape of Haryana.

(Author: Dr Mahabir Jaglan, Former Professor of Geography, Kurukshetra University Email: mahabirsj[at]

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