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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Punjab: Farm outfits struggle to whip up support in areas with BJP dominance

Farmers in Pathankot and Hoshiarpur have not come on roads in strength as has been seen in other districts.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Amritsar | September 22, 2020 1:05:57 pm
farmer protests, farmer protests across India, Haryana farmer protests, Punjab farmer protests, Maharashtra farmer protests, India news, Indian ExpressAt village Bhuttiwala in Mukatsar. (Express Photo)

Amid a call for denying Gurdaspur MP Sunny Deol entry into villages, farmers’ unions are trying hard to get the maximum support for their agitation against farm bills in Pathankot and Hoshiarpur districts of Punjab, which form a belt where BJP dominates politically.

Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Som Parkash is BJP MP from Hoshiarpur, while Pathankot which is under Gurdaspur parliamentary seat is represented by Sunny Deol as BJP MP.

Though farmer unions had reacted sharply to Sunny Deol’s tweet in favour of new farm bills and announced that he will not be allowed entry into villages, farmers in Pathankot do not seem that agitated. Besides, BJP claims that farmers are being misinformed where there is no BJP MP or MLA and now its Kisan Morcha will push its workers into villages of rest of Punjab to push the BJP narrative on farm bills.

Shiv Kumar, Jamhoori Kisan Union leader from Pathankot, said, “It is true that ‘nationalism plus Hindutav’ brand of BJP politics works in parts of districts Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Hoshiarpur. It is a belt where majority of the farmers are Hindu Rajput. BJP has two MPs from Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur. So, we are not getting the kind of support that we have been receiving in other parts of Punjab.”

He added, “It is another fact that this area never seen any big farm agitation in long time. Also farmers here are not only dependent on paddy and wheat cycle and they are also growing fruits and vegetables. But slowly farmers here are understanding that the farm bills are dangerous for all irrespective of political ideology.”

Farmers in Pathankot and Hoshiarpur have not come on roads in strength as has been seen in other districts. Manjit Singh Rai, president of a Doaba farmer union, said, “It is very obvious that political party influences workers. When Shiromani Akali Dal was not supporting the agitation at that time SAD workers were sitting back at homes. But when Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from Cabinet then we started getting calls from the Akali workers. In the same way, BJP has influence in Pathankot and Hoshiarpur districts and their workers are sitting back and even some supporting the farm bills….”

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