BJP’s democratic right to campaign as a political party is being thwarted in Punjab by the farmers and there seems to no rule of the law with the police being mute spectators, the Punjab BJP Chief Ashwani Sharma has told News18.
This comes after 14 BJP leaders were held hostage in a house by farmers for nearly 12 hours in Punjab’s Rajpura on Sunday night and were rescued after the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s intervention. BJP state leaders, who are facing the anger of the farmers on account of the three farm laws brought by the Centre last year, went and met the Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday to complain that their safety was in grave danger.
“Don’t we have the democratic right as a political party to campaign in Punjab? There have been 131 cases of violence against BJP leaders so far but the police always lodges a case against unidentified farmers and does not make any arrests though faces of farmers are visible in video footage and in the media reports in newspapers and TV channels. So are these government-sponsored protests against the BJP in Punjab?” Sharma has told News18 in an interview.
Sharma said they have pointed it out to the CM that protesting teachers and unemployed youths are not allowed to come near the CMs residence and water-cannons and tear-gas is used to disperse them. “Then why are farmers allowed to enter our pre-announced programmes in Punjab about which prior intimation is given to the police? In the Rajpura incident, the District Collector, SSP and DIG were all mute spectators. Even electricity and water was disconnected by farmers to the room where the BJP leaders were held hostage,” he said.
Sharma told News18 that all this showed that the Punjab government has failed in maintaining law and order. “We will give dharnas across Punjab on this issue and fight for our democratic rights. Punjab will run by the Constitution and not by the danda (stick). Incidents against us are taking place despite the presence of the police. The CM has given us some assurances but we will see how much those words translate on ground in days to come,” Sharma said.
He said it is common-sense that if the government wants law and order to be ensured, it is not possible for the same to not happen. News18 has learnt that both Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP President JP Nadda are in constant touch with Sharma and the party has decided to up the heat on the Punjab government on this issue. BJP has decided to contest all 117 seats in Punjab in 2022 after the BJP-SAD alliance collapsed over the farmer laws issue.
The farmers issue has however also led to an implosion inside the BJP in Punjab with many senior leaders taking up cudgels against the party’s stand. BJP has expelled its senior leader and former minister from Amritsar, Anil Joshi, for extending support to the farmer agitation. Other senior BJP leaders like Master Mohan Lal and Rajkumar Gupta have also thrown their weight behind Joshi who has asked for Ashwani Sharma’s resignation as Punjab chief.