Opposition parties' efforts to corner the BJP over the farmers' issue has received a fillip with a BJP ally, who has played a key role in the farmers' agitation in Maharashtra, saying that he will join them in building a nation-wide movement over the matter.
Looking to corner the BJP after two of its ruled states, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, have been hit by protests from the agrarian community, opposition leaders have held a series of meetings to develop a strategy on intensifying their agitation.
Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, who has so far refrained from jumping on to the unity bandwagon of opposition parties, met senior Janata Dal(U) leader Sharad Yadav yesterday as they discussed the issue of building a larger agitation over the farmers' cause, sources said.
The JD(U) leader also wooed over Raju Shetti, a BJP ally and Lok Sabha MP from Maharashtra, who will meet Yadav on June 14 in Delhi.
Asked about his move, Shetti, who enjoys influence among farmers in parts of Maharashtra, said he was "unhappy" at the way BJP governments in states and the Centre have handled the issue.
"I am reconsidering my tie-up (with BJP). I am unhappy over their shoddy handling of the issue. I will meet Sharad Yadav to plan a nation-wide agitation in support of farmers' demands," Shetti told PTI.
Loan-waiver and acceptance of the Swaminathan Committee report on farmers are amongst Shetti's key demands.
CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury held a meeting with Yadav today. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had also met Yadav last week following the death of five farmers in Mandsaur in police firing.
The anger among the farming community is an evidence of "anti-farmers" policies of the BJP, said an opposition leader, adding that it is an opportune moment for them to build a "counter-narrative" against the saffron party which has so far managed to dominate the political discourse due to its impressive electoral victories.
To give their alliance a wider appeal, opposition leaders are also in touch with activists like Medha Patkar, the sources said.
Leaders of various opposition parties, including the Congress, JD(U), the Left, had tried to visit violence-hit Mandsaur earlier this week but were prevented by the state police in fear of worsening the situation.
The BJP has accused opposition parties of doing politics over the death of farmers and said the Modi government has framed several pro-farmers policies and is working to double their income by 2022.