BJP’s Anil Joshi and Mohan Lal warns party to take the farmers protest seriously

News Desk: The BJP leaders will not be able to step out of their homes if the ongoing standoff with the farmers protesting over the three agri laws is not resolved soon, party leader and former minister Anil Joshi Wednesday said.

Joshi, who failed to retain his Assembly seat in the 2017 state polls, also rejected insinuations by some leaders within the party that he was raising farmers’ issues to cement his chances from the Amritsar North Assembly constituency in election due early next year.

“Right from day one, I have been told by my constituents that they regretted voting for Congress. They are waiting for me to contest again. It is not an issue. I challenge the state BJP leadership to leave their security behind and try visiting the nearest village. If the farmers’ issue is not resolved, they will not even be able to step out of their homes,” he said.

Joshi added that unlike some other BJP leaders who first raised the issue of farmers and then started speaking in favour of farm laws, he will now move across the state and speak for the farmers.

Asked if he will do this while remaining within the ambit of the party, Joshi said he had been raising his voice since last year. “They can throw me out if they want to but I am saying all this from within the party,” he said.

Another senior leader, Mohan Lal, has come out in support of Joshi. He represented the Pathankot constituency till 2012 when the party decided to field Ashwani Sharma from there. Mohan Lal has openly accused Sharma of attempting to scuttle his political career and has come out in the open on several occasions berating the BJP’s stance on the farmers protest.

Lal issued a statement saying that had the Punjab BJP represented the farmers’ issues correctly, the results would have been different. “A committee of two persons has been formed of Surjit Kumar Jyani and Harjeet Singh Grewal. These two kept singing praises of the government while we lost the ground beneath our feet,” he added.

The former minister added that instead of paying heed to his advice to be very careful of the repercussions of the farmers’ agitation, the state BJP started a parallel agitation against the farmers. “We could not handle this issue properly. Anil Joshi is not opposing the party. He is coming out in support of farmers. If the farmers’ agitation continues like this and Centre does not intervene, Punjab BJP is going to pay a heavy cost for it,” he said.

A senior leader of the party, who did not want to be named, dismissed these statements as pressure tactics and for staking claims to ticket for 2022 Assembly polls. “Didn’t Jyani also make similar statements last year in favour of the farmers? Has he not come around to the party’s view point and has now been aggressively talking in favour of the Centre’s strategy? The same will happen with these leaders also. There is no infighting worth its name,” he said.

When contacted, BJP national general secretary, and one of the few Punjab leaders representing the state in central leadership, Tarun Chugh, said that discussions within the party must not be termed as dissent. “Anil Joshi and Mohan Lal are our brothers. We keep raising issues which are important for our party. It is true that discussions for candidates for the next Assembly polls have started taking place and there is nothing wrong in that. Some political parties have already declared their candidates and others have appointed halka in-charges. We are a national party and we too are taking steps to ensure our victory,” he added.