Cover Story
Farmer’s Movement and its Consequent Fall-Out for the BJP in Punjab Elections
by Indresh Maikhuri

In the past couple of years, India and the world have borne witness to a historic farmer’s movement, as well as the varied means of suppression that the BJP has used to crush the movement from its inception. The Modi government has left no stone in its arsenal unturned, be it from the deployment of tear gas and water cannons to placing nails, barbed wires and heavy concrete barricades, to stop the farmers demanding justice and rights. However, even in the face of such brutal state repression, with over 700 farmers losing their lives, the farmers have persisted unwaveringly, and have held their ground till the fascist Modi government was forced to withdraw the three anti-farmer agricultural laws.

Punjab was the epi-center of this historic farmers' movement and one of the noteworthy effects that this movement had on the political situation in the state was the dissolution of the long-standing alliance between the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP. This groundwork laid by the farmers' movement continued to challenge the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Punjab was among the states where the idea of the INDIA alliance had not fully materialised. In tandem with this, and keeping local political equations in mind, the Aam Aadmi Party which had come to power in Punjab by defeating Congress in the 2022 Vidhan Sabha elections, once again contested against Congress in the Lok Sabha elections of 2024. Yet, the BJP remained unsuccessful in gaining ground Punjab once again.

Punjab has 13 Lok Sabha seats. In the recent Lok Sabha elections, out of the 13, Congress has won 7 seats, while Aam Aadmi Party secured 3 seats. The Shiromani Akali Dal won one seat, and two seats were won by independents of whom, one is Amritpal Singh, who is imprisoned in Guwahati for supporting Khalistan.

BJP managed to secure the second position in only three seats in Punjab, namely, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar, and Ludhiana. In the remaining ten seats, the BJP fared even worse. It is noteworthy that in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won two Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, back when it was in alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Congress won 8 seats. However, in 2019, Congress was in power in Punjab. Two years before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, in 2022, Congress not only lost considerable power in the state but also saw many of its key leaders defect to the BJP. One of these leaders, Ravneet Singh Bittu, switched from Congress to BJP, contested from Ludhiana, and lost to Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh Raja Warring. Despite this, Modi appointed Bittu as a minister in the central government.

Similar to how Modi has tried to establish his connection in every state, he tried to use a similar tactic and establish a connection with Punjab by saying in an election rally that one of Guru Gobind Singh Ji's five beloved ones (Panj Pyare) was from "his" Dwarka! The election results in Punjab portray that people have seen through this farce and have given a strong response to the atrocities committed during the farmers' movement and the attempts by BJP to label Punjab as a terrorist and anti-national state.

Fall-Out for the BJP in  Punjab Elections