Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates campaigning in Punjab have already started facing protests, as promised by the farmers, even though the polling in the state is to be held in the last phase. The farmers have upped the ante against the BJP, implementing their blueprint for the Lok Sabha polls, and have announced a series of actions against the party across the country in tandem with the Central Trade Unions, and other organisations.

In the last few days the BJP candidates in Punjab have faced the farmers’ ire on the campaign trail. The farmers’ strategy is to confront the candidates in a democratic manner. They are raising slogans and showing black flags to these candidates while also asking questions on their stand on the farmers’ issues.

The farmers who are protesting against the candidate have said that the local BJP leaders had not supported the movement against the three Farm Laws and thus have no moral right to seek votes from the people.

Sources on the ground say that the protests are ‘comparatively mild’ in urban areas. Here the BJP supporters resorted to counter sloganeering and shouting ‘Jai Shri Ram’. At many places the farmers are adamant that they would not allow the BJP candidates to even enter the villages.

Till now the candidates who have faced stiff opposition from the farmers include renowned Punjabi singer Hans Raj Hans who is the BJP candidate from Faridkot district, Taranjit Singh Sandhu who is a former envoy to the United States and the BJP’s candidate for the Amritsar seat, and Preneet Kaur who jumped ship from the Congress to the BJP recently, and is contesting from the prestigious Patiala seat.

This series of protests were announced by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella organisation of farmer groups across India, as a part of its ‘Punish BJP’ campaign for the Lok Sabha polls. Even organisations like SKM-Non Political and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) whose cadres continue to camp on Haryana borders are continuing with protests in support of the common demands of the farmers’ fraternity.

Hans was the first one to face the farmers’ anger at two places. His campaign cavalcade was met by angry farmers at both Moga and Faridkot. At one place he even tried to pacify the agitating farmers by throwing flower petals on them but to no avail.

Sandhu was shown black flags amidst slogan shouting at Thotha, Gangomahal and Kallomahal areas of Ajnala on Saturday. He reportedly told the media persons that “democracy allows everyone the freedom of expression. The same democracy that allows the farmers to protest allows the candidates to campaign”. He also claimed that “the BJP has plans to increase the farmers’ income.”

Kaur has also faced protests at two places. The first one was in Mohali where she was on a visit and the farmers came to know about her presence. They rushed to the spot and raised slogans while she was leaving.

On Sunday she faced protests in the rural belt around Patran. The farmers have plans to protest again when she comes on a scheduled visit to the area again on Monday.

Earlier, former Congress MLA from Budhlada Mangat Rai Bansal had also faced a massive protest from the farmers when he joined the BJP last month. Sources said that the joining event was carried out in haste and he ‘fled’ the area.

Even in neighbouring Haryana, the farmers have expressed their anger against Jananayak Janata Party (JJP) leader Dushyant Chautala for standing with the BJP during the farmers’ agitation. The JJP was in alliance with the BJP when Manohar Lal Khattar was the chief minister of the state.

The Haryana government had tried to suppress the farmers’ movement against the three controversial farm laws on several occasions. Chautala’s cavalcade was stopped at Nara and Gamra villages of Narnaund assembly constituency in Hisar on April 5.

He was forced to walk to Nara village when the farmers stopped his cavalcade outside and showed him black flags. At Gamra the villagers confronted him at the periphery and did not allow him to enter the village as they sat blocking his cavalcade.

After a brief argument he was allowed to walk to the venue of his programme. There are reports of him facing resistance from the farmers in Sindhad and Khanpur villages as well.

“These protests are going to intensify across India in the days to come,” said Narayan Dutt of Inquilabi Kendar Punjab who has been associated with the farmers’ movement.

“Our protests are non violent and completely democratic in nature. We want to air the feelings of the masses,” pointed out Angrez Bhadaur who is associated with Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda).

Meanwhile, the farmers affiliated to the SKM (Non Political) and KMM carried out a ‘funeral procession’ of the BJP government near Ambala on Sunday. On the other hand the ‘Kalash Yatra’ carrying the ashes of Shubhkaran Singh, the young farmer who had allegedly died in Police action in February, is underway carried out in the South.

According to a KMM spokesperson on Sunday farmer leaders Sarwan Singh Pandher, Harvinder Singh and Gurmaneet Singh were detained by Tamil Nadu police in Coimbatore to prevent them from burning an effigy. They were later released.

The protest was against the Central government’s excesses against the farmers and the arrests of the latter. “The Kalash Yatra will resume on Monday after a meeting with the local administration,” the spokesperson added.

The SKM has been countering the government’s narrative of ‘Viksit Bharat’ (Developed India). It has been stated that on one hand the government is denying the minimum support price (MSP) on agricultural produce, and on the other the assets of corporate houses are continuously spiralling manifold.

“‘Ache Din’ is only for the corporate houses and their intermediaries and the top 10% of the people who have access to wealth. SKM appeals to the people of rural India to undertake the burning issue of the acute agrarian crisis in the election debate to expose, oppose and punish BJP- the agent of the corporate forces,” an SKM spokesperson said.

He added that, “The main plank of BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha election campaign is the ‘Vikasit Bharat’ narrative of India heading to become a five trillion economy surging to the third rank after the United States and China.

“The gross domestic product (GDP) growth and the size of the economy do not mean the life of ordinary people is safe and flourishing. As per data available on the per capita income index India ranks 143rd out of 195 countries but the BJP is silent on this fact.”