Though Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday compared the Haryana Police lathi-charge, bursting of tear-gas shells and spraying of water on Punjab farmers on the Patiala-Ambala border and several other places to 26/11 Mumbai terrorists’ attack yet the truth is that this remark has been made in utter despair as his party has become highly discredited, especially among those engaged in agriculture-related works.
Not only that, even the friend-turned-foe, the Bharatiya Janata Party too sounded critical of this.
It needs to be mentioned that the lone Akali Dal minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned on Sep 17 after the passage of farm related bills. She is the wife of Sukhbir Singh Badal.
A few days later Akali Dal snapped four-decades ties with the saffron party—actually its origin can be traced to the Bharatiya Jan Sangh days. However, the BJP is not ruing the loss of its oldest ally in the country as it sees a blessing in disguise in the Akali Dal’s move.
A Punjab-watcher, on the condition of anonymity, told Thenewsweb that the BJP may try Haryana type experiment in Punjab. In Haryana it came to power for the first time in 2014 without the support of the most powerful caste, the Jat.
In Punjab Sikhs form just under 60 per cent of the population. Most of the farmers of the state are Sikhs and come from Jat caste.
As the Congress, the Akali Dal, and even Aam Admi Party have their eyes on the Sikh votes, the BJP may concentrate on the rest of the 40 per cent Hindu population.
True till now the Congress has been getting substantial Hindu votes, but the BJP has the potential to polarize the voting by the next Assembly election which is due early in 2022.
The present farmers movement may help the BJP further polarize the situation in its favour. Political observers are of the view that by over-reacting Sukhbir Badal has shot himself in the foot.