Surging Farmer Protests Target BJP Candidates in Punjab

As the political battleground heats up in Punjab with the parliamentary elections drawing near, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates find themselves at the receiving end of vehement protests from farmer groups across the state’s rural landscapes. Several outfits affiliated with the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) have mobilized to confront BJP candidates, demanding answers to pressing questions, and in some instances, barring them from campaigning in villages altogether.

Rural Backlash: Candidates Face the Music

In a recent incident on Monday, Hans Raj Hans, BJP’s candidate from Faridkot and a prominent singer-turned-politician, encountered resistance in Gidderbaha village, where enraged farmers surrounded him, refusing to let him campaign until he addressed their concerns satisfactorily. Similar confrontations were witnessed as Dinesh Kumar Babbu, the BJP candidate from Gurdaspur, faced disruptions in Fatehgarh Churian during his campaign.

Model Code of Conduct as Shield

Struggling to pacify the agitated farmers, candidates like Babbu cited the limitations imposed by the prevailing model code of conduct, emphasizing their inability to make decisions pertaining to farmers‘ grievances at the moment.

Accusations and Allegations

Reacting to the protests, BJP leader Arvind Khanna accused the demonstrators of being affiliated with the ruling Aam Aadmi Party, while farmer unions insisted on holding BJP leaders accountable for their actions.

Roots of Discontent: Farmer Demands

The recent wave of protests follows the release of a questionnaire by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), a prominent farmers’ umbrella body, aimed at holding the ruling BJP government accountable. The demands include legal provisions for minimum support price (MSP) and action against those implicated in incidents such as the Lakhimpur Kheri tragedy involving the son of a BJP leader.

BJP’s Defense and Counterclaims

In response to the mounting pressure, BJP leaders have attempted to justify their actions during previous protests. Hans Raj Hans, for instance, clarified his stance, highlighting his efforts to facilitate dialogue between farmer leaders and the prime minister during the earlier phase of protests.

Escalating Tensions: Series of Confrontations

The discontent among farmers has translated into a series of clashes and disruptions during BJP candidates’ campaign events. From stone-pelting incidents targeting former diplomat Taranjit Singh Sandhu to the recent clash involving BJP’s Bathinda candidate Parampal Kaur, the confrontations underscore the deep-rooted tensions between the party and the farming community.

Voices of Democracy: Protests and Political Response

Acknowledging the democratic right to protest, BJP’s candidate from Patiala, Preneet Kaur, emphasized the importance of electoral verdicts reflecting the collective will of the people.

Allegations of Conspiracy

Meanwhile, BJP’s Punjab chief, Sunil Jakhar, has alleged a “hidden conspiracy” behind the ongoing protests, attributing them to vested interests within the farming community.

As Punjab braces for the final phase of the parliamentary elections on 1 June, the simmering discontent among farmers presents a significant challenge for BJP candidates vying for electoral success in the agrarian heartland.

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