Farmers’ protest denting BJP’s hopes of increasing vote base in Punjab : The Tribune India

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Farmers’ protest denting BJP’s hopes of increasing vote base in Punjab

Akalis not keen on alliance with saffron party till issue resolved

Farmers’ protest denting BJP’s hopes of increasing vote base in Punjab


Tribune News Service

Jupinderjit Singh

Chandigarh, February 22

Intense efforts of the BJP to strengthen its support base in the state after the Assembly elections in 2022 seem to have been badly hit by the ongoing farm stir, especially after the death of youth Shubhkaran Singh.

How they stood in previous polls

  • The BJP went solo in the 2022 Assembly elections, winning two seats with 6.6 per cent share in the total votes polled
  • In 2017, the party contested elections with SAD and both recorded 30.4 per cent vote share with 15 seats for SAD and three for the BJP

CM should quit over protester’s death: SAD

SAD on Thursday blamed Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann for the death of farmer Shubhkaran Singh and said a case should be registered against him, besides calling for his immediate resignation. Addressing a press conference, senior SAD leaders Bikram Singh Majithia and Daljit Singh Cheema accused the CM of acting as a tout of the Haryana Government and the Centre and said his failure to register a case against Haryana cops when they attacked farmers in Punjab territory on February 13 had led to the killing of Shubhkaran on Wednesday.

Around two weeks ago, BJP’s former alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) was desperate for renewing that partnership, but it has not made any fresh efforts for resuming talks on the issue. At the same time, farmers are organising dharnas outside the BJP leaders’ homes, thereby further amplifying the anger of the masses against them.

The BJP had gone solo in the 2022 Assembly elections, winning two seats with 6.6 per cent share in the total votes polled. In 2017, the party contested elections with the SAD and both recorded 30.4 per cent vote share with 15 seats for the SAD and three for the BJP. In 2022, they contested separately and SAD won three seats and the BJP two.

Traditional BJP leaders backed by the RSS argue that the saffron party’s vote share in 2017 Assembly poll was 5.4 per cent on the 23 seats it had contested and thus they had a fair chance in the parliamentary elections where national issues would dominate. Party leaders hoped their following was likely to consolidate with the opening of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

Though BJP state president Sunil Jakhar and ex-CM Capt Amarinder Singh have issued statements favouring farmers and calling for peaceful resolution of various issues through talks, it seems it will take far more for the state electorate to turn towards the party.

Talking to The Tribune, some BJP leaders said they were hopeful of a peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis. “All Punjabis are directly or indirectly related with farming. Traders in grain markets form the support base of the BJP in urban and semi-urban areas. We understand farmers’ concerns and are with them. The agitation may cause a dent, but we think a good solution will win hearts soon,” they say.

Sources in the SAD say no fresh talks have been held with the BJP. “Earlier also, much of the talk was in the media only, especially about the division of seats. The SAD left the BJP-led NDA government for farmers and every sacrifice will be made for them,” said a leader. He stressed the Bathinda MP was the only leader who resigned from the Union Cabinet over farmers’ issues.

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