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Amit Shah to attend BJP farmers’ convention in Patna next month

Patna: Union Home Minister Amit Shah is scheduled to visit Patna to attend a farmers’ conclave organised by the Bihar BJP on February 22, the birth anniversary of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati who was an ascetic and a peasant leader, party leaders said here.

They also described Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as “anti-farmer”, referring to the violence on January 11 in Buxar where a peasants’ protest over compensation demand for acquired land for a thermal power project turned violent.

At a joint press conference, state BJP president Sanjay Jaiswal and Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Thakur said that Shah will attend the party’s farmers’ convention on February 22.

To a query, Jaiswal denied that Swami Sahajanand Saraswati’s birth anniversary was being celebrated as a strategy to consolidate the party’s upper caste support base.

“Swami Sahajanand Saraswati’s contributions have been acknowledged by historians around the world. Please do not view him through a narrow prism,” said Jaiswal.

The Swami, who was born in Uttar Pradesh in 1889, had set up an ashram at Bihta in Bihar where he got involved in peasant activism.

His social and political activities focused initially on Bihar, and gradually spread to the rest of India with the formation of the All India Kisan Sabha. He was an iconic figure for the influential Bhumihar community, largely seen as BJP supporters whom the RJD has of late been trying to win over.

“It is because of the lacklustre attitude of the state government, Saraswati is a less-known personality in Bihar. The state government must hand over the defunct Bihta Bazar Samiti and its land to the central government so that it can be developed into an advanced farmers’ facilitation centre to be named after Sahajanand Saraswati,” said Thakur.

On the Buxar incident, he claimed that beating up protesting farmers by security forces exposed the “inhuman, anti-farmer and anti-poor” face of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

“Farmers were protesting for compensation for their land acquired for establishing a thermal power plant at Chausa. Several farmers suffered severe injuries following police lathi charge,” Thakur said.

When the CM recently visited Buxar during his Samadhan Yatra, he did not bother to meet the affected farmers, the BJP leader said.

Amid speculations that senior JD (U) leader and former Union minister Upendra Kushwaha may join the BJP, Jaiswal said, “All those leaders inclined towards the politics of development and nationalism are welcome to join our party. Besides, all those who fought against the jungle-raj in Bihar are welcome”.

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