The BJP on Tuesday was forced to remove a post on MSP purchase of crops from its social media handles after the 36-year-old model whose pictures were used as part of the message claimed that he was at the Singhu border protesting with farmers.
Hoshiarpur-based Harpeet Singh, who is popular as ‘Harp Farmer’, posted a retort on Punjab BJP’s social media handles claiming that his picture, in which he is seen as a happy farmer, was used without his permission.
In the video message attacking Punjab BJP, Harp said, “I am against farm bills and they have made me their poster boy.” He added that the picture used by the BJP was six years old.
“MSP is not the only issue now, there are many other demands too. Punjab farmers are at Delhi borders for almost a month now and they will come back only after their demands are met,” Harp said, while adding that he was considering sending a legal notice to the BJP for using his picture without his consent.
Janardan Sharma, media incharge of Punjab BJP, said,” I am not aware as to how the picture was used and who used it. However, I think it has been taken off now.”
In the message that has now been removed, the Punjab BJP had claimed that crops in the current season were being purchased on MSP. The message mentioned that the government’s nodal agencies had purchased 412.91 LMT (Lakh Metric Tonnes) of paddy and paid 77,957.83 crore benefiting 48.56 lakh farmers. Details about purchase of moong, moongfali, soyabean,urad dal, cotton and kopra on MSP were also given out. The figures mentioned in the message were till December 19, 2020, the post claimed. Accompanying the post was picture of a smiling Sikh farmer wearing a kurta-pajama, pagri and holding a spade. BJP’s message further read, “Few powers are misleading farmers and are running their agenda #MSPhaiAurRahega #ModiWithFarmers.”
However, Harp Farmer wrote back on Punjab BJP’s page saying, “I am at Singhu border since November 26 and I am against these farm bills. I am supporting farmers in their struggle and the BJP is using my picture in favour of the bills and that too without my permission. It is the height of indecency. I appeal to everyone to report about this so that Facebook also comes to know about this act of the BJP.”
WHO IS HARP FARMER
On his social media profile, Harp Farmer describes himself as an actor, director, photographer and producer.
The 36-year-old is a resident of Nidhulon village of Hoshairpur.
His friend, Manjeet Singh, who is with him at the Singhu protest site, said,”His parents are into farming and he too visits the village regularly, apart from being an actor and a photographer. He also has a flat in Mohali. This picture used by BJP has come as a shock to us.”
NOT THE FIRST TIME
This, however, is not the first time BJP has landed into trouble for using a farmers’ picture. In August, Gurpreet Singh Chandbaja, a farmer from Chandbaja village of Faridkot district, had strongly objected to the Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Department of the Union government using his picture for highlighting the e-NAM scheme along with the agri ordinances. “I was strongly opposing the agricultural ordinances and was surprised to see a picture of mine on the agriculture department’s website without even my knowledge. My picture was removed from the portal after my objection. But now, BJP has gone ahead repeated similar blunder,” he said reacting to the latest controversy.
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