Farmers’ ongoing agitation hits BJP’s prospects of spreading its tentacles in Punjab

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Updated on Dec 13, 2020 01:31 AM IST
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ByGurpreet Singh Nibber, Chandigarh

The prospects of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to spread its base in Punjab have taken a hit in the wake of the farmers’ ongoing agitation as many of its leaders, including Sikh faces, have resigned against the Centre’s agriculture laws.

Thousands of farmers from the state are camped at the entry points to the national capital for over a fortnight, taking the anti-BJP sentiment to a new high.

The passage of bills by the Narendra Modi-led government led to widespread protests by Punjab farmers, which now are spreading to other parts of the country. It triggered a sharp reaction among the Sikhs in the saffron party, particularly at a time when the political stocks of the panthic party—Shiromani Akali Dal—were dwindling.

Earlier, the BJP was being dubbed by some as a viable political alternative in Punjab’s political landscape. It was flexing its muscles in the state to win the 2022 assembly polls on its own.

The things, however, seem to have changed as the party is receiving a stiff opposition in the rural belt. To make the matters worse, the activists of farmer organisations are gheraoing the BJP leaders, restricting their movement.

Nearly two dozen Sikhs holding key positions in the party’s state and district bodies have resigned. Not only Sikhs, others leaders have also quit, with some shifting their loyalties to other parties.

“The new laws are against the agrarian community. I had been opposing since the ordinances were passed in June month, but no one listened. So I was left with no choice but to quit,” said Malwinder Singh Kang who resigned as general secretary of the BJP’s state body.

Party’s kisan morcha in-charge in Moga Tarlochan Singh, Yuva Morcha state general secretary Barinder Singh Sandhu, former district president (Amritsar) RP Singh Maini, former Gau Sewa commission chairman Kimati Bhagat, who also was former general secretary of party’s SC Morcha and Ajay Kumar, president of the party’s youth wing of in Fatehgarh Sahib, also resigned after the protests began.

“No one listened to our concerns, so I resigned,” said Bhagat, who joined SAD.

A number of councillors from civic bodies in Gurdaspur, Abohar and Bathinda have also quit the party in the recent days, severely impacting the BJP’s plans to strengthen its base. Many leaders from the district units in Sangrur, Bathinda, Moga, Fatehgarh Sahib and Ferozepur have also put in their papers.

Harjeet Singh Grewal, who is associated with the BJP for many years, differed, saying there was no adverse impact on the party’s popularity. “A large number of Sikhs are still associated with the party,” he claimed.

BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh said more people are joining the party in Punjab. “Our party has acceded to the demands of farmers and is ready to listen to their concerns. The party is as strong as ever,” he claimed.

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Sunday, November 28, 2021