With several polls around the corner, BJP clearly rattled by ongoing farmers’ agitation

The agitation by farmers from Haryana, Punjab, western UP and other parts of the country against the three farm laws, now in the third month, appears to be finally worrying the BJP

With several polls around the corner, BJP clearly rattled by ongoing farmers’ agitation
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Faraz Ahmad

The agitation by farmers from Haryana, Punjab, western UP and other parts of the country against the three farm laws, now in the third month, appears to be finally worrying the BJP. Elections in many states are due this year, including municipal polls in Delhi where the BJP has been holding fort in all three municipalities since the then Delhi Chief minister Sheila Dikshit trifurcated the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

There is an old maxim: to shorten a line without cutting it, you draw a bigger line in front of it. The BJP is quite adept at it, by playing the communal card in the name of Hindutva.

That process is in full swing in Delhi currently.

The other day, my next door neighbour, a fervent BJP supporter, was complaining of the callous and poor work of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC). The plight of the other two, North Delhi and East Delhi municipal corporations is, if anything, worse, with their inability or simple refusal to pay salaries to even their health workers – including doctors and nurses of the Hindu Rao Hospital – never mind their backbreaking 24-hour work combating COVID-19.

I told my neighbour: never fear, the BJP will again invoke Pakistan, ‘Khalistan’ and use phrases like ‘anti-national’, ‘Urban Naxal’ which will sway people to vote for it again. But he ruled it out.

But the BJP and its warriors are at it all the same, undeterred by any legal constraints. They have even attributed the farmers’ agitation to only ‘Jats’ to try and split them along caste lines.

After failing to persuade the Jats of western UP and Haryana to abandon the farmers’ demands of repealing the farm laws, BJP has now evidently despatched its emissaries to the Jat khaps to cajole and coax them to give up their agitation and return home.

But in Delhi where the municipal polls are closer, they have started using the old mandir-masjid card. They are going around mixed population colonies like Mongolpuri and Khhichripur polarising the polity on communal lines in the guise of seeking donations for the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

They also took up the murder of Rinku Sharma by his close neighbours and friends, who happened to be Muslims. To give it a communal colour, Delhi BJP leader Kapil Mishra and Bhopal MP Sadhvi Pragya Thakur rushed to Sharma’s family. The police says he was killed due to a personal financial dispute. But VHP, Mishra and Bajrang Dal insist that Rinku was collecting donations for the Ram Mandir and that is why he was killed by his Muslim neighbours. Naturally this has caused tremendous communal tension in Mongolpuri and surrounding areas.

There was also much hype over the issue of Delhi High Court passing orders to demolish an unauthorised temple in the middle of Chandni Chowk, currently being redeveloped.

Meanwhile, villagers of Singhu border or Tikri border or residents of Ghazipur are fed up with the barricades, fencing and long nails on the main highways, which is causing daily inconvenience to the people living in the vicinity.

But the government won’t pay heed to this because the government has made the farm laws a prestige issue. The government would much rather arrest a 21-year-old environment activist, Disha Ravi, in the ‘toolkit’ case.

As far as the farmers’ agitation goes, things are not turning out to be as rosy as BJP would want it to be. For instance, Union minister Sanjeev Balyan, who allegedly provoked the 2013 communal carnage in Muzaffarnagar district, was shooed away from a UP village where he went to ‘educate farmers about the benefit of farm laws’. Incidentally, village after village has put up signboards saying ‘BJP fellows are strictly forbidden to enter this village’.

It remains to be seen if the BJP’s strategy of drawing a big line to shorten the existing one is going to work this time around.

(Views are personal)

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Published: 23 Feb 2021, 9:00 AM
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