Anguished by continued “ambush" of its events by protesting farmers, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Haryana has planned to counter what it calls the false narrative such incidents throw up by organising Tiranga Yatras across the state.
By invoking nationalism, the party hopes to woo back the farmers who, it claims, have been misled by the Congress. The series of yatras with the tricolour began from Gharaunda block of Karnal, where about six months ago angry farmers had vandalised the venue of chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s mahapanchayat. The attack had sparked off a major confrontation between the BJP and the farmers and the CM had called it a conspiracy by the opposition Congress.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting since late last year at the borders of Delhi and in some other parts of the country, seeking the repeal of three agricultural laws brought by the Centre that they fear will eliminate the minimum support price (MSP) system and leave small and marginal growers at the mercy of big corporations.
Friday’s Tiranga rally was led by state BJP chief OP Dhankar. “There is an outpouring of nationalistic sentiments. This rally which is attracting people in huge numbers clearly suggests that the national pride cannot be buried by a false narrative and our people are with our party which has espoused the cause of nationalism in the country," Dhankar said.
The rally was attended by other senior party leaders including MPs and MLAs.
“The huge numbers at the rally are a message to those who thought they could finish us politically," said Karnal MP Sanjay Bhatia.
Sources said that the purpose behind the rally was twofold. “The party cadre was feeling a little under pressure from the disruptions caused by a section of farmers and hence needed to be re-energised. Secondly, by getting huge numbers at the rally we will try to send across a signal that we won’t be cowed down by threats from a small group of farmers who have the backing of opposition parties," commented a senior leader.
The state unit of the BJP has been under pressure due to the continued disruption of its events by protesting farmers. Party sources said that with such attacks, a perception was growing that farmers were moving away from the BJP. For the party, though the continued support of its ally, Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), led by Dushyant Chautala on the farm laws, has given it much-needed relief over the contentious issue.
Unlike neighbouring Punjab where it has been facing stiff opposition, the situation for the BJP is comparatively better in Haryana with the party claiming it has the support of the farmers. “They may be upset but they have started sensing that the farm laws are for their own benefit and the Congress was trying to use them politically," said a party leader.