Citing urban-rural divide, Jakhar builds narrative against farmer protest, woos bizmen - Hindustan Times
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Citing urban-rural divide, Jakhar builds narrative against farmer protest, woos bizmen

By, Jalandhar/amritsar
May 31, 2024 06:12 AM IST

With Sunil Jakhar lashing out at farmer unions, a few incidents have came to light in which unions faced opposition from shopkeepers and urban population for obstructing BJP’s campaign in urban areas.

Though former Congress veteran and BJP’s Punjab chief Sunil Jakhar hasn’t addressed many public rallies, he is playing the role of party’s messenger, implementing its strategy, including that of taking farmer unions head-on. He has convened over 50 press conferences to fiercely attack the Congress and the ruling AAP.

BJP leader Sunil Jakhar has been raising the issue of “shattered” economy of Punjab and the worsening “law and order” situation.
BJP leader Sunil Jakhar has been raising the issue of “shattered” economy of Punjab and the worsening “law and order” situation.

As the party’s campaign is being obstructed by farmer leaders, it was Jakhar who first attacked these unions, accusing them of playing into the hands of AAP and the Congress. Jakhar recently highlighted how self-styled farmer leaders were impacting the state’s economy besides creating an urban-rural divide as the business community is upset over the “long rope given to these farmer unions”.

Many believe Jakhar has successfully brought the issue to the centre stage as a few incidents came to light in which farmer unions faced opposition from shopkeepers and urban population for obstructing BJP’s campaign in urban areas.

“In a meeting with industrialists in Ludhiana, a local businesswoman urged to stop farmers’ dharnas. I told her that they were not farmers, but farmer leaders. Let us not paint farmers in this light,” Jakhar described, adding that a local businessman said he paid 6 crores to a farmer leader.

On chances of reverse polarisation because of farmers, Jakhar said, “It is bound to happen when AAP and the Congress, very shrewdly, have extended full support to these unions just to shadow the real issues of Punjab and paint the BJP in a bad light.”

Jakhar later met party’s key campaigner for Punjab and Union jal shakti minister Gajendra Shekhawat and both discussed party’s seat-wise prospects, especially in Jalandhar where Jakhar claimed that the prospects of Congress’ candidate Charanjit Channi, his arch rival in the Congress, had come down suddenly.

Since morning, Jakhar has being giving media interviews to various web and TV channels from the city. Later, heading towards Amritsar for a TV show, when asked if reverse polarisation is actually happening on the ground, Jakhar claims he could see it happening not on communal lines but over the genuine issues of Punjab. “You can see the sudden rise in popularity of our Faridkot candidate Hans Raj Hans. Home minister Amit Shah asked about the BJP’s chances, I told him that the party will get good number of seats and that I am damn sure about Hans’ victory. The reason is he was abused and targeted by farmer unions and the local Mazhabi Sikh-Valmiki community has stood rock solid behind Hans as the sufi singer comes from their community,” says Jakhar.

In the TV show in Amritsar, Jakhar’s focus was “shattered” economy of Punjab and the worsening “law and order” problem.

As always, his thrust is removing the tag from the BJP that it is an anti-Sikh and anti-Punjab party. “BJP will break all myths in these polls and stun the opposition,” adds Jakhar.

Returning to Jalandhar, Jakhar is bracing up for another meeting with state affairs in-charge and former Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani. “BJP’s biggest strength is its workers and the organisational structure. The Congress doesn’t even have 10% of that,” he claims. As Jakhar is about to call it a day at around 10:30 pm, an obvious question to him is about his driving force. “I am driven by settling scores with the Punjab Congress people who judged me not for my commitment and integrity, but for my religion,” says Jakhar who had left the Congress soon after the 2022-assembly polls.

Jakhar was upset with the Congress over being denied the CM’s post even as many MLAs sided with him after the party decided to change Captain Amarinder Singh as CM in 2021.

“As far as my physical strengthen is concerned, I take normal diet but I always make it a point to spare time for sit-ups and push-ups,” he says as he leaves for his hotel as he had to be ready early for PM Modi’s rally in Hoshiarpur.

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