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In Punjab, Farmers Put up Posters Saying the BJP Can't Enter Their Villages

Several posters were dedicated to Shubhkaran Singh, who was shot dead allegedly by security forces during the farmers' protest in February.
BKU Ekta Dakaunda members holding a protest with anti-BJP poster in their hands at Bhucho Khurd village, Bathinda district. Photo: Special arrangement

Jalandhar: With the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) announcing six candidates for the 2024 parliamentary elections in Punjab, agitated farmers too have opened the front against the saffron party and started putting up posters blocking the entry of BJP leaders in their villages. Punjab goes to polls on June 1.

While most of the banners were being put up by various farmers’ unions on their own, the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (non-political) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) – leading farmers’ protests at Shambhu and Khanauri borders – too released a separate poster criticising BJP’s ‘vandalism’ against farmers.

The SKM (non-political) and KKM have dedicated their poster to young farmer Shubhkaran Singh, who was allegedly shot dead by security forces at Khanauri border while farmers were protesting for the legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP) on February 21.

Anti-BJP messaging

In most villages, farmers have been putting up posters with slogans like ‘Kisana da Delhi jana band hai, BJP da Pinda vich auna band hai (Farmers are barred from entering Delhi, BJP is banned from entering villages)’ issued by the BKU (Ekta Dakaunda), Bhucho Khurd, Bathinda district.

Another banner by BKU Ekta, Sidhupur was dedicated to Shubhkaran and placed in several villages. The poster titled: ‘Mera ki Kasur si….! (What was my fault? I was merely coming (to Delhi) remind you (Modi government) of your promises).’

Not just posters, even videos of people questioning the Modi government from Punjab’s villages have gone viral on Facebook and Instagram.

BKU Ekta Dakaunda poster mentioning that since farmers are banned from going to Delhi, BJP leaders are banned from entering villages. Photo: Special arrangement

Asserting that there is a growing discontent and anger among farmers in the wake of the Haryana government’s iron fist policy against this year’s farmers’ protest, BKU Krantikari general secretary Baldev Singh Zira said, “The way Shubhkaran Singh was killed, tear gas shells and pellets were used against the farmers leading to severe injuries, people are not just angry but they have decided to boycott the BJP altogether. People are expressing their anger against the saffron party and putting up such posters everywhere.”

Baldev said that SKM (non-political) and KMM had given a call to question BJP leaders and other politicians from different parties. “Our call was confined to questioning the BJP. However, miffed with the BJP, people have started putting up banners banning the entry of its leaders. We have asked the farmers to question not just the BJP leaders but those of other parties too, so that people get to know their stand on MSP and other farming issues. It will have an impact on the BJP’s poll prospects in Punjab,” he said.

He said that the protest against the BJP was not just being led by the SKM (nonpolitical) and the KMM, but the SKM too, which had led the previous farmers’ protest in Delhi. “Like the previous farmers’ protest in 2020, this time too the BJP will face the music,” he added.

At Namol village of Sangrur district, villagers put up a poster last week asking BJP leaders to abstain from visiting their village. The poster released by BKU Azad was dedicated to Shubhkaran who was killed on February 21 at Khanauri border, triggering a wave of protests against the BJP across Punjab, Haryana and elsewhere in the country. Posters featured Shubhkaran posters were being distributed in adjoining villages too.

BKU Ekta Sidhupur poster dedicated to Shubhkaran Singh. Photo: Special arrangement

A video of Happy Singh making an announcement from a gurdwara in Namol village has also gone viral on social media, where he was requesting people not to let the BJP enter their villages. “As you all know, we have been camping at Shambhu and Khanauri border for farmers’ rights for the past many days. During this period, BJP government killed our farmers and hit them with bullets. In this context, farmers’ unions have given a call that if a BJP leader visits our village, we should question them and protest against them,” he said.

Talking to The Wire from Shambhu border, Happy Singh Namol, the president of BKU Ekta Azad, said that they would not let the BJP enter their village, the way the BJP did not let the farmers reach Delhi. “It is a collective decision of the entire village and people are united to teach the BJP a lesson. Those who have ill intentions against us, how can we let them reach our villages?” he asked.

At Kotli Kalan village of Mansa district, villagers along with farmers have jointly put up a banner at the entrance of their village saying: “Naujawan Shubhkaran Singh ate kisana di katil sarkar BJP-RSS ate used hor rajnitik sathiya da es pind vich boycott hai (The killers of young Shubhkaran Singh, farmers and their allies are boycotted in this village). BJP-RSS No Entry.”

Similarly, a poster issued by SKM (non-political) and KMM at Mandi Kalan village of Bathinda district read: “Warning: No BJP leader will be allowed to enter the village. If anybody brings them or any party stitches an alliance with the BJP, they will face a stiff protest.”

Talking to The Wire, BKU (Shaheed Bhagat Singh) spokesperson Tejveer Singh Ambala said most farmers’ unions have made posters on the same theme on their own. “This is a spontaneous reaction of farmers against the BJP. Farmers have decided to boycott the BJP and ban their entry in their villages, the way they were banned from reaching Delhi. As of now, posters against the BJP are being put up in Punjab and Haryana villages by different farmers’ unions and the local people on their own,” he said.

Manjeet Singh Niyal, state secretary of BKU (Ekta-Azad), whose union put up posters in Niyal village in Patiala district, said that they have announced a complete boycott of the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. “Farmers have a clear message for the BJP that they do not want them to enter their villages. We have been camping at Shambhu border from February 13, but instead of listening to our demands, the BJP killed a young farmer, injured others and blocked the highway, creating a border within the country,” he said.

Notably, this is the first time that the BJP will be contesting parliamentary elections on its own. Earlier, the BJP contested the 2022 Punjab assembly elections alone, as the Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP had parted ways following the farm laws protest in 2020.

A hoarding at Jangpura village of SAS Nagar district town, Mohali district mentioning that no party would be allowed to either enter their village or put up posters. Photo: Special arrangement

However, farmers are again at loggerheads with the Modi government after they gave a call for a ‘Delhi Chalo’ on February 13.

Following this, the Union government blocked the Punjab-Haryana Shambhu border with multiple layers of barricades, and used tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse the farmers leading to widespread resentment among the peasantry and locals.

The tipping point in the protest came after a young farmer, Shubhkaran, was shot dead allegedly by the security forces while another youth was beaten up mercilessly. Over 200 farmers were injured and many social media accounts of farmers and their unions withheld.

BJP leader reacts

Responding to the anti-BJP sentiment among the villagers, senior BJP Punjab leader and national executive member Harjeet Singh Grewal told The Wire that it was not the villagers but the farmers’ unions who were misleading the voters.

The BJP leader also lashed out at the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress, and said, “Apart from the farmers’ unions, AAP and Congress are also responsible for this poster war against our party, but let me tell you farmers are with the BJP. As for farmers’ protest at Shambhu and Khanauri borders, it is their right and they are free to do so but not violently. We welcome their protest.”

On farmers’ banning the entry of BJP leaders in the villages, Grewal said, “I am in Punjab and so are the other leaders of the BJP. We have not faced any such issue. There are 24,000 booths of the BJP in Punjab out of which 19,000 are in villages alone. We are going to every booth and village. Will the farmers ban even those BJP leaders who are already living in the villages? We have two months time for elections in Punjab and BJP will reach every village.”

SKM to hold ‘Jana Mahapanchayat’, question BJP

The SKM has announced a ‘Jana Mahapanchayat’ across the country to against the BJP ahead of the general elections.

In a press release, the SKM too said it would put up posters and banners questioning BJP in villages across the country. “The Jana Mahapanchayat will appeal people to discuss livelihood issues like the agrarian crisis, MSP, loan waiver, unemployment, labour codes and privatisation of public sector among others. It will also appeal people to stamp out the trends of dictatorship of Modi government and protect the democratic, secular, federal principals enshrined in the Constitution of India,” the group said.

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