The ‘ghar wapsi’ of thousands of farmers from Delhi borders after ending their agitation for over a year, could also have an impact on the 2022 Punjab assembly elections.
Though the farm leaders have all along maintained that their campaign was purely apolitical, there is no denying the fact that the continued movement has had its impact on Punjab’s political parties shaping up their strategies for the forthcoming polls. Also significant is the fact that even during the protests, some constituents of the SKM leadership like Gurnam Singh Charuni had been openly advocating for farmers jumping into the political arena.
So who benefits politically from the suspension of the agitation? Analysts believe that the wrapping up of the protests will throw up interesting possibilities in the run-up to the state assembly polls.
From the Bharatiya Janata Party, which until recently found itself virtually ostracised, to the ruling Congress and one of the main challengers, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), all outfits now believe that it could be anybody’s game and the farmers will form the core of their political strategy.
Not just the mainstream parties, even new entrants like the Punjab Lok Congress led by former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh could also sense an opportunity to make an impact. Captain would try to play the card that it was he who played a crucial role in persuading Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeal the laws. He will be tying up with the BJP also trying to get on board other splinter parties like SAD (Dhindsa).
Captain was quick to congratulate farmers on Thursday, asserting his party’s unequivocal support for them. He pointed out that as chief minister of Punjab, he had not only supported the farmers’ fight for the repeal of the Centre’s controversial agri laws but had ensured that they were not, in any way, harassed even when they were sitting in protest across the state or marching towards Delhi.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) too is trying to cash in on the decision to part ways with BJP over the farm law issue. The party will try to convince the farmers that it played its part in the repeal. The leaders have been citing the resignation of senior leader and former cabinet minister Harsimrat Badal as one such step. But with the repeal of the laws, the party could find itself in a quandary on its next step. With Captain cosying up to the BJP, going back to its original alliance partner would seem difficult.
The ruling Congress too staked claim to the issue, saying it would not take any step that would affect the interest of the farmers. After Charanjit Singh Channi took over as the chief minister, he has been on a spree of “farmer-friendly” announcements, including Rs 2 lakh compensation for each of those who were held by authorities in connection with the January 26 violence in Delhi during the protests. With the agitation called off, the party would have to recalibrate its strategy and try to offset threats of anti-incumbency.
The main opposition Aam Aadmi Party would also now not only have to look for a chief ministerial face but have to rethink its strategy vis-à-vis the farmers since there are many claimants to their ‘victory’. Political analysts say in the coming days, it would be interesting to see what issues the political parties would want to pick up, who takes the credit and what could be the new alliances.
With inputs from News18