Ahead of PM’s Patiala rally, farmers plan a ‘welcome’ : The Tribune India

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Ahead of PM’s Patiala rally, farmers plan a ‘welcome’

Roads leading to Polo Ground to be sealed | Farmers to soon chalk out strategy

Ahead of PM’s Patiala rally, farmers plan a ‘welcome’

Members of various farmer unions protest against BJP candidate Sushil Rinku at Phillaur in Jalandhar constituency on Sunday. Tribune photo

Tribune News Service

Aman Sood

Patiala, May 19

Farmer unions, spearheading the protest against the Centre and also boycotting BJP candidates during their visit to villages, will hold a meeting in the next two days to chalk out a strategy in the wake of PM Narendra Modi’s rally, his first, next week. Taking no chances, the police have identified routes to the rally venue to ensure that there is no untoward incident.

Despite the farmer unions’ boycott call for BJP leaders, tight security arrangements will be in place for Modi’s rally on Polo Ground here on Thursday, May 23.

The police have finalised the venue in consultation with the BJP cadre and foolproof security arrangements will be in place as Shambhu already has hundreds of farmers protesting against the Centre and now the farmers will try to oppose the PM visit.

Modi’s rally in Patiala will mark his first rally this poll season in Punjab in support of candidate Preneet Kaur, who had quit the Congress. Eyeing the vote bank of Patiala urban and rural, the rally will also target traders and businessmen.

However, given the farmer stir, the police are not taking any chances. Senior police officials confirm that two helipads have been reserved for the PM and no one will be allowed on the roads, leading to the rally venue.

“Earlier, we wanted the rally venue to be right next to the Patiala Aviation Club where AAP had earlier held a huge rally. That venue is the best suited given the landing of the plane and it being the nearest. However, the BJP leaders wanted Yadavindra Sports Stadium or Polo Grounds as the rally venue. Finally, Polo Ground was finalised,” said a senior cop.

Meanwhile, the farmer unions, which are already protesting against the BJP candidates, said they would continue their protests. “Our senior leaders will hold a meeting and decide what is to be done to oppose Modi’s visit. We are asking questions from the BJP candidates and will also try to question Modi during his visit. We will discuss our strategy in the next two days”, says senior leader Jaswinder Singh Longowal.

Talking to The Tribune, Patiala DIG HS Bhullar said security had been tightened in and around the venue and the Special Protection Group, which manages the inner cordon of the PM’s security, will be in Patiala to inspect the venue on Monday. “We will deploy an adequate police force and hold special nakas. Everything will take place as per the standard-operating procedures”, Bhullar said.

“People wanted to listen to the Prime Minister and his vision for Punjab and its people. He will be here talking about the BJP government’s road map for the state and for Patiala”, said Preneet Kaur.

During his visit to Punjab in January 2022, Modi cancelled his programme after a security breach left him stuck on a highway on the way to Ferozepur because of protesting farmers.

Sportsmen object

Local sports personnel have raised objections to the rally at the venue, claiming that such rallies and events damage the ground and will also mean no sports activity at the venue for two days. However, senior officials says that the government Sports Department will charge Rs 75,000 for the rally venue and the organisers will have to restore the venue in the condition they have rented it.

PM’s Punjab campaign

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address three public rallies in Punjab on Thursday and Friday, BJP state general secretary Rakesh Rathour said on Sunday. “Modi will address a public rally in the second half of the day on May 23 in Patiala followed by two rallies the next day in Gurdaspur and Jalandhar”, he said.

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