Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday launched a scathing attack on the BJP over the malicious and derogatory terms allegedly used by its senior leaders against protesting farmers.
Singh asked the BJP to stop maligning farmers and their genuine fight for justice by using offensive terms like “urban Naxals, Khalistanis, hooligans etc”.
“If the BJP cannot distinguish between anguished citizens fighting for their survival and terrorists, militants and hooligans, it should give up all pretence of being a people's party,” the chief minister said in a statement here.
“A party which treats citizens exercising their democratic right of protest as Naxals and terrorists has lost all right to rule over those citizens,” he added.
The Shiromani Akali Dal too condemned the BJP for allegedly terming Punjab farmers as “urban Naxals”.
“It is reprehensible that the Punjab BJP unit has fallen so low that it is calling Punjab farmers urban Naxals. This insult is intolerable and I advise the BJP's Punjab unit to take back this slur inflicted on the ‘annadaata’ immediately and apologize for the same”, SAD senior leader and party's 'Kisan Wing' president, Sikandar Singh Maluka said in a statement here.
He said the Punjab BJP should not try to label hard-working farmers of the state simply because they had protested against the anti-farmer statements of its leaders.
Chief Minister Singh hit out at BJP general secretary Tarun Chugh over his alleged description of Punjab farmers as 'urban Naxals’.
Singh said with these remarks, the BJP leadership had hit a new low in its desperation to promote its political agenda.
He pointed out that protests by farmers, who have been demanding the repeal of the Centre's new farm laws, were taking place not just in Punjab but also in BJP-ruled states Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
“Do farmers protesting in all these places look like Naxals to you? And does that mean law and order has collapsed everywhere?” he asked Chugh.
“What is being seen in all these states, as well as at Delhi borders, is the sorry fallout of the BJP-led central government's failed policy on agriculture and its mishandling of the situation triggered by farmers' protest,” said the chief minister.
Instead of heeding farmers’ pleas and responding to their concerns, the BJP was busy trying to demean them and stifle their voice, he claimed.
Pointing out that various farmer leaders themselves had appealed to the agitating farmers not to disconnect power to mobile towers, the chief minister said this clearly showed that what was being witnessed on the ground in some places “was a spontaneous manifestation of the wrath of farmers who see a dark future ahead as a result of the new farm laws”.
Singh said farmers' unions have clearly stated that they do not want farmers to indulge in such acts.
The chief minister said the farmer leaders themselves believed, and have been stressing, that it was imperative for the success of their movement to ensure that it remains peaceful.
“Is that the language of Naxals as Chugh is alleging?” he asked, dubbing the BJP leader's remarks as a “shameless reflection of his own cheap and vicious mentality”.
“In sharp contrast to the BJP, the Congress believed in upholding the people's constitutional right of peaceful protest, which even the Supreme Court had validated in the context of the farmers' agitation,” the chief minister said.
“But the BJP and its leaders like Chugh seem to be bent on stifling all such protests with their brazen lies and false propaganda,” he added.
The chief minister also took a dig at Chugh's plea to the Union home ministry “to keep an eye on such developments in Punjab”, saying “it would have been better for the state if the BJP leader had sought the Centre's support in keeping an eye on the fresh spurt of the terrorist movement, as well as smuggling of weapons, in Punjab”.
He urged farmers “not to give in to the provocations of BJP and other opposition parties in Punjab, as their sole agenda is to prevent the farming community from getting their rightful due from the Centre”.
On Saturday, BJP general secretary Tarun Chugh had taken exception to the alleged forceful disruption of telecom services by protesting farmers in Punjab and said the Congress government has failed to maintain law and order in the state.
He had also said "urban Naxal forces seem to be having a field day in Punjab”.
The BJP leader had also wondered if the chief minister “has connived with the Naxal forces to ensure the collapse of law and order" and create an environment of fear and terror in the state.
Amid reports that power supply to mobile towers was being disconnected by protesting farmers in different parts of the state, Amarinder Singh had on Friday appealed to them to not inconvenience the general public with such actions.
The farmers have been protesting against the Centre's new agri-marketing laws.