Only a handful of farmers protesting against BJP, says party’s Punjab chief

Talking to The Indian Express, state BJP president Ashwani Sharma said, "Punjab is ours and so are the farmers. Congress has misled them and in Punjab Congress government is supporting protests of farmers."

The BJP on Wednesday reiterated that it will continue reaching out to farmers despite a boycott of party leaders announced by farmer unions in Punjab. Stae BJP president Ashwani Sharma said that after holding 14 press conferences to clear doubts over Centre’s farm Bills Tuesday, the party held 7 press meets across the state Wednesday, including in Barnala where protests by farmers had scuttled a BJP interaction with the press a day earlier. The party will hold 5 press interactions across the state on Thursday, including at Ludhaina and Jalandhar. Interestingly, while the party has a set a target of total 32 press conferences in the state on farm Bills, most are being held in urban centres. Farmer unions had on Tuesday announced that they will not allow BJP leaders to enter villages in the state.

Talking to The Indian Express, state BJP president Ashwani Sharma said, “Punjab is ours and so are the farmers. Congress has misled them and in Punjab Congress government is supporting protests of farmers. So, our job is to tell farmers about the benefits of bills and we will do that. These Bills are to improve the present condition of farmers, they have been misinformed, so we will reach out to them, all farmers are not protesting, only a handful of them are protesting against the BJP.”

He alleged,”In many villages, the block development officer (BDO) is asking villagers to protest. Why is a government employee interested in organising farmers’ protest? It is clear that state government is provoking farmers.”

Except the BJP, all political parties in Punjab have come out in total support of the farmers’ agitation against Centre’s agri Bills.

Asked if BJP was feeling left out in Punjab, Sharma said, “No, not at all. We are with the farmers and farmers are with us. So how can we be left alone. It is a phase. We will convince them gradually by explaining the Bills in details.”

The BJP also plans to reach out through social media, print and electronic media and even through letters. Already, messages typed in Punjabi are circulating on social media which say “myth versus reality” over farm Bills.

While Sharma was vocal against the Congress, he did not say a word about BJP’s alliance partner SAD, whose workers are also out on the roads protesting.

Sharma said, “One can see that now no one is asking Congress about answers on the hooch tragedy, failures of the government. They did not fulfil even a single promise and they have changed the entire focus. Our farmers are very innocent and they are not trying to understand the gimmick of the state government. However, we are here to make them understand.”

Also read | Sukhbir Singh Badal writes: Why my party withdrew its minister from the NDA government on the farmers’ issue

Congress, SAD organise tractor marches

On Wednesday, both Congress and SAD organised tractor marches in Dakha constituency. The first one was organised by SAD MLA from Dakha, Manpreet Singh Ayali, from Mullanpur to Baddowal, while another tractor march was organised by Congress from Baddowal to Mullanpur .

Farmers supporting both parties had joined these marches. The route was the same, but in opposite directions. However, they did not clash with each other during this march.

SAD MLA Manpreet Ayali said the SAD had been taking up the need for revocation of the agricultural ordinances immediately after they came into being following apprehensions expressed by farmers as well as party workers.

He said it was unfortunate that the BJP did not take farmers and SAD into confidence while framing the agricultural ordinances. He said the Centre also failed to allay the apprehensions of farmers and did not secure the MSP regime by making its continuation a part of the Bills. “It is due to this that Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from Cabinet,” he said, while welcoming the step and saying it had been taken in the interest of the farming community.

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