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regular-article-logo Friday, 21 June 2024

BJP faces farmer backlash, Delhi security for former chief minister Khattar in Haryana campaign

The protest and backlash have not only affected campaigning in Haryana but also extended to neighbouring Punjab where farm unions have blocked the BJP’s poll campaigns

Imran Ahmed Siddiqui Shambhu (Haryana-Punjab border) Published 21.05.24, 08:39 AM
Punjab farmer Agya Pal Singh at the Shambhu border.

Punjab farmer Agya Pal Singh at the Shambhu border. Imran Ahmed Siddiqui

The BJP government in Haryana had put up multi-layer barricades of concrete blocks and spikes when the farmers tried to march to Delhi to press their demand for a legal guarantee on MSP and a blanket debt waiver earlier this year.

Now, the elections are underway and it’s payback time.

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Four Intelligence Bureau officials had to rush to Haryana from Delhi last week to oversee security arrangements of former chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and other BJP candidates facing backlash from farmers during their poll rallies in the
Jat heartland.

The protest and backlash have not only affected campaigning in Haryana but also extended to neighbouring Punjab where farm unions have blocked the BJP’s
poll campaigns.

Around 700-800 farmers have been staying put at the Shambhu and Khanauri border points between Punjab and Haryana since February 13 when their march to Delhi was stopped by the Haryana government.

Khattar, who is contesting from the high-profile Karnal seat in Haryana, and other BJP candidates have been routinely facing black flags amid aggressive sloganeering from villagers. Some of the candidates are not even allowed to enter the villages.

The Jats, estimated to form 22-23 per cent of the state’s population, hold sway in the 10 parliamentary seats in Haryana.

Posters and banners have cropped up in several villages of Haryana and Punjab announcing that the leaders of the BJP and its former ally Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) are not allowed “entry”.

The BJP and the JJP parted ways in March this year over seat-sharing differences ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. The JJP is now contesting all 10 seats on its own.

In Haryana, farmers have attempted to disrupt the rallies of BJP’s Sonipat candidate Mohan Lal Badoli, Naveen Jindal (Kurukshetra), Ashok Tanwar (Sirsa), Ranjit Chautala (Hisar), Arvind Sharma (Rohtak) and Khattar over the past two weeks.

Villagers are also questioning them over the use of force against farmers during their year-long agitation against the now-scrapped farm laws in 2021.

“The country is witnessing unprecedented levels of unemployment and price rice. Farmers are suffering because of the policies of the government. Despite all this, Modi is busy chanting Musalman and mangalsutra,” said Sanjib Kumar, a farmer in
Kurukshetra.

Karamveer Singh, a fruit seller in Karnal, says unemployment is rampant in Haryana and a whole generation has crossed the eligibility age during the BJP’s two-term government. “Modi had promised to double farmers’ income but failed to keep his word. He has now erected a border to stop farmers from marching to Delhi. He has become a tanashah (dictator).”

The JJP’s Ajay Chautala and his family have also encountered protests while campaigning in various districts in Haryana.

Sitting on a charpoy with his friends at the Shambhu border, Baldev Singh, a farmer from Punjab, said: “If the Modi government doesn’t let us enter Delhi, we will also not let the BJP leaders enter our villages. Our farm unions in Haryana are also not letting them enter several villages.”

A fellow farmer, Agya Pal Singh, said: “The BJP government in Haryana put up layers of barricades on the border to stop us from marching to Delhi. They have erected a border here to stop farmers as if we are enemies of this country. Modi should be voted out as he has made us suffer for long.”

Congress candidates have experienced smoother campaigning and focussed on local issues, unemployment and price rise besides highlighting the BJP’s alleged plan to change the Constitution and snatch the rights of backward communities.

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