Despite poll officer’s efforts, Punjab farmers firm on disrupting BJP campaign : The Tribune India

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Despite poll officer’s efforts, Punjab farmers firm on disrupting BJP campaign

Despite poll officer’s efforts, Punjab farmers firm on disrupting BJP campaign

Farmers hold a protest in the Patiala constituency. - File photo



Tribune News Service

Aman Sood

Patiala, May 15

With farmer unions adamant on disrupting political events, rallies and meetings of BJP candidates in the poll-bound state, the state police are on the toes to ensure that there is ‘no face-off that turns ugly’ between agitating farmer unions and BJP workers. Despite the electoral officer meeting union members, the farmers continue to oppose BJP candidates’ entry into villages with over 24 such cases reported across the state in the past week.

PM, Home Minister to visit state soon

With more VIP visiting the state soon, including that of the Prime Minister, Home Minister and other leaders, the state police are taking no chances and deploying adequate force to avoid any untoward incident. They are also trying to persuade farmers not to get into arguments with anyone during protests

With more VIP visits coming soon, including that of the Prime Minister, Home Minister and other leaders, the state police are taking no chances and deploying adequate force to avoid any untoward incident. They are also trying to persuade farmers not to get into arguments with anyone during protests. Despite all this, farmer unions continue to reach venues where BJP leaders are addressing workers or holding meetings.

“We are clear on boycotting BJP candidates and will ask them some tough questions. Our protests across Punjab will continue,” say senior farmer leaders leading the protests in the state since February.

“The problem is that the farmer unions get to know about the events well in advance and it gives them ample time to assemble, mobilise resources and reach the venue. With minimal or no use of force against them, the farmers know that they can protest and even try to get into arguments with the official candidate or their supporters,” said a DSP, who last week found himself caught in such a melee.

Already the BJP leadership led by state party chief Sunil Jakhar has approached the electoral office with complaints that certain farmers are targeting only BJP leaders and not allowing them to approach voters in villages. Following the complaint, CEO Sibin C had asked farmers’ groups to refrain from disrupting campaigns of candidates and had instructed the state police to ensure level-playing field to candidates. However not much has changed even after a week.

Yesterday only farmers and police had locked horns at Patran when the union members were protesting against Preneet Kaur’s visit. As the cops tried to intervene to stop the farmer union members from getting near the venue, an activist’s turban was tossed in the melee, following which the union members started a dharna.

“We have clear directions to allow only peaceful protest and if they try to get close to the candidate or the venue, we have to stop them,” said cops.

Not only Preneet, but BJP candidates in all constituencies are facing the farmers’ ire following the agitation by the farmer unions since February. With a majority of the votes in the rural segments, the BJP is clearly facing some issues to approach the voters and explain to them about the BJP’s vision.

Talking to The Tribune, special DGP (Law & Order) Arpit Shukla said, “Though farmers have a democratic right to protest, we also have to ensure the safety of everyone.”

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