May 28, 2024

Lok Sabha elections 2024: In Haryana, a wave of discontent directed towards the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) has emerged, stemming from contentious issues such as the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for agricultural produce and unemployment. This backlash has compelled election candidates affiliated with these erstwhile allies, including former Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, to conduct their campaign activities under police protection and, in some instances, cancel rallies due to public hostility, reported The Times of India (ToI).

Heckling incidents have been reported across rural areas of the state, occasionally resulting in clashes between opposing supporters. Notably, candidates like Khattar and Ranjit Singh Chautala, BJP’s nominee for Karnal, have encountered aggressive questioning and sloganeering from villagers during their campaign events.

In addition, BJP nominees Ashok Tanwar from Sirsa, Banto Kataria from Ambala, Mohan Lal Badoli from Sonipat, Arvind Sharma from Rohtak, Dharambir Singh from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh, and Naveen Jindal from Kurukshetra have had to call off rallies on several occasions. JJP’s Ajay Chautala and his family – former deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala, the latter’s brother Digvijay Singh Chautala, and the siblings’ mother Naina Singh Chautala – have also encountered protests while campaigning in various districts, with instances of clashes necessitating police intervention.

The intensity of these disruptions has prompted heightened vigilance by intelligence agencies to preempt any potential unrest prior to the campaign events of BJP and JJP candidates, said officials.

In contrast, Congress candidates have experienced relatively smoother campaigning, focusing on local issues and highlighting BJP’s alleged intentions to “change the Constitution and snatch the rights of backward communities.”

These challenges faced by BJP and JJP coincide with the ongoing farmers’ agitation at Shambhu and Khanauri on the Punjab-Haryana border, marking three months since its inception. The farmers’ demands persist despite obstacles such as roadblocks erected by the Haryana government, including a legal guarantee on MSP and a blanket debt waiver.

The impasse has not only affected political campaigning in Haryana but has also extended to Punjab, where farm unions have blocked BJP’s poll campaign. Haryana is scheduled to vote in the sixth phase on May 25, while Punjab’s elections are slated for June 1.

First Published: May 14 2024 | 1:33 PM IST