Repeal of farm laws: Respite for embattled BJP, SAD in poll-bound Punjab


The repeal of the three contentious farm laws announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come as a much-needed respite for the embattled Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab that votes in three months even though the protesting farmers are still to call off their stir.

The BJP and its former alliance partner, SAD, have been at the receiving end of the farmer unions’ ire in the state that is the hotbed of the agitation. Their leaders have been repeatedly targeted by the protesters, who halted their movement, disrupted meetings and even laid siege to houses of some of them, in the past one year.

Besides easing tension in Punjab where the stir started in August 2020 before spreading to Haryana and west Uttar Pradesh, the PM’s big announcement appears set to change the electoral dynamics by creating a level-playing field ahead of the elections, according to political experts.

Crucial issue slips out of Cong hand

The SAD and the BJP are now hoping for normalcy to return to the state following the Centre’s move to renege on an important decision so that they can run their campaign smoothly, while the ruling Congress, seeing an important issue is slipping out of its hands, has amped up its rhetoric on statutory guarantee on the minimum support price (MSP) and other demands of the protesting farmers.

Guru Nanak Dev University’s former head of political science department Professor Jagrup Singh Sekhon said the BJP agreed to withdraw the laws primarily with an eye on the crucial UP elections, but its impact would also be felt in Punjab where the party is not a major political player on its own in a four-cornered contest. “Pressure will be off from both the BJP and SAD. The Akalis have strong pockets of support in rural areas, but face trust deficit, whereas the Congress remains sharply divided. The AAP is still to get in the groove,” he said, calling the upcoming elections anyone’s game.

BJP’s tie-up with Capt possible

For the BJP, the doors have opened for a “seat arrangement” with former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh who announced his separate outfit, Punjab Lok Congress, after quitting the Congress and the breakaway factions of the SAD. “I look forward to working closely with the BJP-led Centre for development of farmers and Punjab’s progress,” the two-time former chief minister said while welcoming the PM’s announcement to withdraw the controversial laws. Capt Amarinder had resigned from the CM’s post on September 18 amid a rift in the Punjab Congress.

SAD hopes to recover ground

At the same time, the Centre’s decision is also a breather for the SAD, which had walked out of the NDA over the farm legislations, but has still been facing the heat for initially backing the laws. The Akalis also seem confident of regaining the support of the farming community, their core political constituency, and the rancor to peter out.

Ashutosh Kumar, professor of political science, Panjab University, said the scrapping of farm laws is a setback for the Congress, which adopted a soft approach towards the protesting farmers and has been counting on their support. “The BJP can fight on urban seats in alliance with Capt Amarinder who has acceptability in the Hindu community. There is, however, no chance of revival of alliance with the SAD before the elections as the latter has tied up with the BSP. It is a fluid situation,” he said.



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Jitendra Kumar

Jitendra Kumar Born on October 10, 1990 an Indian author and activist from Hathras in Uttar Pradesh.