Farm laws' repeal: Amarinder Singh to ally with Punjab BJP
Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday appreciated the central government's announcement to repeal the contentious farm laws. Singh further said that he would be willing to work with the Bharatiya Janata Party in the upcoming polls in Punjab. The BJP leads the ruling alliance at the Centre. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the farm laws' repeal in a nationwide address earlier Friday.
- Currently ruled by Indian National Congress, Punjab is due to go to poll in spring 2022.
- Support for the ruling Congress has dwindled as months of infighting resulted in Singh's resignation this September.
- With his immense political weight, Singh has floated a new party, the Punjab Lok Congress.
- Singh's party in alliance with the BJP could likely beat Congress in the upcoming polls.
Singh told CNN-News18, "101% we will have an understanding and seat-sharing with the BJP now." He reportedly asked farmers to end their protest. He also tweeted, "I am sure the central government will continue to work in tandem for the development of Kisani!" Earlier, he had said he would consider allying with "like-minded parties," naming breakaway Akali groups, particularly the Dhindsa and Brahmpura factions.
Earlier on Friday, PM Modi addressed the nation on the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti, a festival of the Sikh faith, which is a majority in Punjab. Farmers from Punjab had also been the ones to lead the protest. Modi also apologized to the nation and asked farmers to end the protest. The laws will be repealed in Parliament's upcoming Winter Session, he said.
However, the farmers will continue their protests until the laws are repealed in Parliament, said Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson Rakesh Tikait. The BKU is one of the farmer unions leading the protest and Tikait has been the face of the agitation.
Farmers have been protesting against three contentious farm laws since last year. They say the laws would corporatize agriculture and end minimum support prices (MSPs) for produce. Despite protests, the laws were passed in September 2020. By late November, farmers from across the country marched to Delhi to protest. They were stopped at the national capital's borders, where they have camped ever since.
Hundreds of farmers have reportedly died at the Delhi border protest sites since November 2020. Farmer leaders and representatives of the government had also held multiple rounds of talks, however, no resolution was achieved. The protesters had refused to settle for anything less than a complete rollback. However, the government had maintained that the laws were meant to benefit farmers.
The Punjab Assembly elections will be held in February-March next year. Singh's exit from Congress and his potential partnership with the BJP may tip the scales in the latter's favor. Earlier, pollsters had predicted that the BJP may have a tough time in the election. Singh has said his party will contest from all 117 Assembly seats.
After Modi's announcement, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, "The farmers' satyagraha ("truth force") has defeated arrogance. Congratulations on this victory over injustice." The repeal of farm laws will likely also benefit the BJP in upcoming elections in other states next year.