With Punjab leading the way, the buzz is that the farmers’ protests have the blessings of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. He was the first to repeal the Centre’s farm bills in the state Assembly. And though he has been urging the protesting farmers to go and speak to the Central ministers, he has made it clear that the protesters have his support. As have both the Aam Aadmi Party and the SAD. Punjab is slated to go to the polls in 2022 and currently the BJP has only 3 MLAs in the state. It has also broken with its ally SAD. With the Opposition still to get its act together, is Captain Amarinder planning to pre-pone the state polls? There was also his recent reach-out to his bête-noir Navjot Singh Sidhu. Clearly, the Captain is planning something. In fact, when quizzed about his meeting with Sidhu, the Captain claimed that the two talked mostly about cricket. He told the media, “Contrary to what was being suggested, we did not make any plans for Punjab or India or the world. We just had some simple talks, during which Sidhu shared a lot of his cricketing experiences.” As to the SAD claiming that he had hosted a banquet for his rival, the Captain remarked that Sidhu had boiled vegetables while he ate a “missi roti with dahi’”. And added, “Does that look like a banquet to the Akalis?” he remarked. Talk about bowling googlies.
Choice of trouble-shooter
It’s very interesting to note that the BJP deployed Commerce & Railways Minister Piyush Goyal to trouble-shoot with the farmers. One understands the party propping up Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to talk to the farmers for he has a pro-farmer image, apart from being a former Agriculture Minister. But Piyush Goyal? True the bills have been passed as Trade and Commerce ones and not Agriculture, for the latter is a state subject, but should Goyal be at the forefront of the peace talks along with Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar? For, it can be safely argued that Goyal is more comfortable with industrialists such as the kind who may benefit from the farm reforms, than the farmers themselves.