Punjab polls: Congress & AAP tap into farmers' resentment against SAD-BJP
With the farmers busy with harvest and procurement of their Kharif produce, political parties in Punjab are reaching out to them with special outreach programmes and campaigns.
While the Congress party on Monday launched a mega Kisan Yatra that is inspired by the same initiative undertaken by the party vice president Rahul Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh recently, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is carrying out a ' Vote Jodo Jharu Nal' (attach vote to the broom which is the poll symbol of the party). The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal - BJP combine are mainly sticking to the Sangat Darshan programmes of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal for now.
Carrying on with the its new found aggression, the Kisan Yatra of the Congress got underway at Chandigarh with the party's Punjab unit president Captain Amarinder Singh promising to wipe out the last tear from the face of every farmer in the state and a vow to punish the Badals for pushing the farmers to commit suicide.
Congress raises farmers' woes
The Congress got nine widows of farmers who have committed suicide to flag off the yatra which added a punch to the initiative. These farmers had ended their lives in the recent past following their inability to pay off their debts. In some cases, the women had lost both their husband and son, to the vicious cycle of mounting debt.
Amarinder blamed the Badal government squarely for its failure to save the farmers from such pitiable existence and assured the widows,"We will not forgive them (Badals) for pushing you to such a state."
Still reeling under the debts left behind by their deceased husbands, the widows sought Amarinder's help in battling their miseries.
Amarinder reassured the widows that he would immediately waive off all farm debts once his party is back in power. He reiterated his commitment to resolving the problems of the farmer families, who he described as Punjab's engine of growth and progress through the years.
One of the widows from Rajo Majra in Sangrur, Harbans Kaur, whose husband Sohan Singh committed suicide just 22 days back over a debt of Rs. 4 lakh, said what has aggravated her woes is that the government instead of helping her out of her suffering, has now gone and put up an electric tower in the middle of her three bighas of land rendering it completely useless.
Pointing that this is a typical example of the Badal government's 'insensitive and uncaring' attitude towards the farmer families, Amarinder said,"The Badals are so busy filling their own coffers with the hard earned money of the people of Punjab that they have no time to even think of their problems."
Amarinder has timed the roadshow with the Kharif harvest to play up the issue of farmer suicides. Having promised to alleviate the sufferings of the farmers, he is expected to drive home the promise he has been making of waiving off the debts of the farmers while extending support to them once the Congress forms the government.
Amarinder is traveling in a specially designed bus that is equipped with all the basic facilities needed for his stay. The bus has a hydraulic platform from where he will address the farmer meetings along the way. A microphone and speaker system has been fit inside to enable the bus to double up as a mobile public address platform for impromptu meetings.
The 500 km long Kisan Yatra takes off from Moga and will cover the districts of Faridkot, Ludhiana, Bathinda, Muktsar, Jalalabad and Ferozepur.