The Bharatiya Janata Party in Punjab has accused the ruling Congress party in the State for unleashing a spate of attacks on its leaders and workers under the grab of the ongoing agitation of farmers. A fresh attack on state BJP Chief Ashwani Sharma on Tuesday in Ferozpur and an attack on a group of BJP leaders in Nawanshahr on Monday while attending a party meeting were some of the recent incidents being carried out by the Congress workers, the BJP alleged.
However, the government claims that the incidents were the fallout of the farmers’ anger against the Modi government on the farm bill.
Noticeably, the frequency of attacks has increased in the run up to the civic body polls in the State fuelling allegations that the incidents were political in nature. Some BJP candidates fearing violent attacks have even decided to stay away from the electioneering.
The BJP is contesting in around 1,000 seats in the municipal elections to be held on February 14. During the last elections, the BJP had contested in 300 seats as it was in alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
“This is something that the Congress is not being able to accept, hence they are organising these attacks on the BJP leaders,” said Punjab BJP General Secretary Subhash Sharma. He said that the leaders have asked for increased protection from the State government and they have not been provided with any security cover yet. “If the party president has been attacked, then imagine the condition of the candidates,” said Sharma.
Senior party leaders claim that there have been so many violent attacks on the BJP leaders, but no arrests have been made so far and nobody is being questioned.
In October last year, BJP chief Ashwani Sharma’s car was attacked by unidentified persons while he was on his way to Hoshiarpur. Then the Governor had asked for a report from the Chief Secretary. In another incident, senior BJP leader Dinesh Kumar roughed up near Sangrur, while on his way for a party meeting in January this year.
“We do not believe that these attacks are being made by farmers or farmer union leaders. These attacks are by the Congress party and their workers. These are state-sponsored attacks against us under the garb of farmers’ agitation,” charged BJP State unit President Ashwani Sharma.
He said that the party leaders have made representations to the State Election Commission and the other officials but there has been no arrest. “On the contrary, the number of attacks has been on the rise since the last month,” he alleged.
The BJP chief also alleged that the Congress government under Captain Amarinder Singh was not going to conduct a free and fair election. “The BJP candidates are not being allowed to campaign, meet people and whenever they are trying to reach out, these attacks are being perpetrated on candidates so that they get dissuaded and do not participate in the elections,” said Sharma.
He feared that things could get worse in the coming days as the election dates are fast approaching.
The BJP had also requested the State Election Commission to postpone the elections but the Congress government had opposed it. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has maintained that the BJP was facing the wrath of the farmers’ agitation and the party had no role in it.