Farmers joining politics a worry for political parties:

Riding on the entiments generated by the year-long farmers’ protests, around 22 unions of farmers that were part of Samyukt Kisan Morcha which helmed the year-long protest against the three contentious farm bills, have come together to float a new political unit ‘Samyukt Samaj Morcha’ to take party in Punjab assembly elections. The new political front of the farmers in Punjab will be led by Balbir Singh Rajewal. 

Rajewal leads his own faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) – the BKU (Rajewal).

Gurnam Singh Chaduni, a member of SKM’s core committee, has also floated a political outfit, Samyukta Sangharsh Party, which will contest in the assembly elections.

The Sanyukt Samaj Morcha and Gurnam Singh Chaduni’s Samyukta Sangharsh Party could give the big parties a run for their money.

Obviously, with the formation of Samyukta Samaj Morcha (SSM),  not only the traditional political parties have been forced to recalculate their respective vote shares but the SSM too may have to look for a suitable pre-poll alliance. 

Rajewal Is the CM Face of the SSM:

The decision of 22 farm unions in Punjab to form a political party and contest elections is a big gamble. Under the stewardship of Balbir Singh Rajewal, the Samyukt Samaj Morcha, have decided to contest all the 117 leg legislative assembly seats in the state.

Rajewal said he was under tremendous pressure from the people of Punjab to contest the polls after the three contentious farm laws were withdrawn in a victory of the farmers. Punjab is facing a lot of problems such as drugs, unemployment and the migration of youth from the state which they want to address.

Incidentally, barely a few days after the announcement of the formation of the Sanyukt Samaj Morcha, the newly formed outfit seems to have run into some rough weather.

The outfit, especially its leader Balbir Singh Rajewal, now finds himself at the receiving end of a number of allegations from different quarters.

It is rumoured that Rajewal has flirted in the past with the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Congress party and the Aam Adami Party.

Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu have both accused Rajewal of trying to “strike a deal” with Union Home Minister Amit Shah on the farm laws.

They are citing a letter allegedly by Rajewala to Shah which, in effect, said that only Farmers’ Produce and Trade Act had to be repealed.

The purported letter was made public by Doaba Kishan committee leader Amarjit Singh Rarra.

Rubbing salt in to the wound Congress MP Attacks Farmer Unions for Entering Punjab Poll Fray; Avers ‘personal Benefits’. Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, on Monday, questioned the formation of a political party by 22 farmers unions and put forth three unpleasant queries for them. 

  • He asked if they have left their fight for nationwide MSP (Minimum Support Price) to fight polls in Punjab.
  • “Was this segment of leaders motivated for and by political parties? 
  • Is that why they have given up the fight,” the Ludhiana MP said. 

He then questioned about justice for 700 farmers who died during the year-long protest and victims of Lakhimpur Kheri. 

“Farmers should come & are welcome in politics. But this is not for farmers, this is for personal benefit. Anna Hazare was used & thrown by a common man to become the CM of Delhi. Similar fate awaits these leaders too,” Bittu retorted with implacable bitterness.

Rajewala is yet to respond to the allegations.

Prepoll alliance:

Will SSM have alliance with an old party it will chooses to give alliance a miss?

Sources in the SSM said that they may go with AAP because SSM leaders feel that it alone cannot win many seats but definitely can dent the prospect candidates of other parties. “This is a new party and no political party or even people have anything to say against it while all traditional parties are marred by some controversy and SSM can take advantage of the same. But all the farmers will not vote for SSM as it is a new party. An alliance with an already established party like AAP will be helpful,” said a senior SSM leader.

But,the Sanyukt Samaj Morcha has also so far remained non-committal about a tie-up despite reported confabulations with farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal, the face of the newly floated Morcha.

Aam Aadmi Party: 

Notwithstanding, with 88 candidates already being declared and 29 remaining, it now seems unlikely that AAP will forge any pre-poll alliance with the Sanyukt Samaj Morcha. 

Denying any kind of an alliance with AAP, senior state leaders said there would be no pre-poll alliance with any party or the SSM. Punjab-based AAP leaders said a post-poll alliance could not be ruled out depending on the outcome of the election.

BJP, Punjab Lok Congress, and Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt) alliance:

The BJP on Monday formally announced its alliance with the Punjab Lok Congress headed by former Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh (retd.) and former Akali Dal leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s new outfit, Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt).

The BJP said the three parties would issue a common “vision document” for the Assembly polls and form a committee with two members from each party to decide on the particularities of sharing of seats.

Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, BJP in charge of Punjab polls announced this after he, along with Capt. Singh and Mr. Dhindsa, met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J.P. Nadda. The meeting took place at Mr. Shah’s residence here.

A meeting attended by Mr. Shah, Mr. Nadda, Capt. Singh and Mr. Dhindsa was held and it was decided that the BJP, Capt. Singh’s party and Mr. Dhindsa’s party will jointly contest the coming polls,” Mr. Shekhawat stated.

“We have decided to form a committee to thrash out the nitty-gritty of seat-sharing. Two members from each party will be proposed for the committee. Once they decide on the seats, these will be gone through by party leaders of all the three parties. The second assignment of this committee would be to propose a draft of a vision document to work as guiding principles for the government formed by the alliance” he told The Hindu. For the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the main face of the campaign.

He stated that while it would be “premature to comment on seat-sharing”, the circumstances from when the BJP was in alliance with the Akali Dal (when it contested only 23 seats out of 117) were different, a clear hint that the BJP was holding out for a bigger share of seats.

According to senior sources in the BJP, the party is holding out for nearly 70 out of the 117 seats in the Assembly with the Punjab Lok Congress fighting on 25-30 seats, and adjustment of Mr. Dhindsa’s party in the rest.

How Punjab parties are wooing youth with foreign dream ‘schemes’:

There has always been a craze among Punjab’s youth to study and settle abroad, and political parties are wooing them with their ‘deals’ this election season.

According to data, in Punjab, 53 per cent of voters fall in the age group of 18-39. The political parties are trying to lure youngsters in the state into voting for them as out of the total of 1.96 crore voters, a little more than one crore fall in this age group. In the five years before 2021, nearly 22 lakh Indian students went to study abroad. At last, 2.6 lakh students, who left for foreign shores, were from Punjab.

SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said a 13-point charter of initiatives will be implemented by the alliance if it comes to power in 2022. For the youth, he promised if the alliance comes to power, it will help them go for higher studies within the country and abroad and said a “student education card” with interest-free loan up to 10 lakhs will be issued.

Bahujan Samaj Party and The Shiromani Akali Dal alliance:

BSP is the fourth largest party in Punjab after improving its vote share in 2012 elections. In 2012, the BSP came second from Balachaur Vidhan Sabha seat with 21,943 votes. The BSP is yet to win a seat in the Assembly. It contested on 111 seats in 2017 and won 0 seats. 

The Shiromani Akali Dal’s president Sukhbir Singh on 12 July 2021 announced his party will form an alliance with the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) for the Punjab assembly elections, which will be held in 2022, and said the coming together of both parties was a “new day in politics”.

Congress party: No alliances have been announced so far:

It is the oldest party in the state which has managed to retain its core support, notwithstanding its position in the Assembly benches.

It has ruled the state several times and has consistently maintained the highest vote share in the state, barring just one election. But the odds have changed this year with unpredictable opponents in the field.  Then there are the recent internal tussles which were superficially resolved but have left deep scars on the party’s exterior.

The party will try to ride on the wave of farmers’ agitation which is primarily directed against the BJP. Its state unit chief Navjot Singh Sidhu has been targetting BJP for ‘anti-farmer’ policies and the Badals for their alleged corruption. The sacrilege issue is also likely to play a major role in the election as it was used as the pretext to script Amarinder’s exit from the government, and eventually the party.

The Congress has decided not to declare a chief ministerial candidate in Punjab in the upcoming elections. It was a setback for Navjot Singh Sidhu, who dreamt to be CM face of the Congress.