Virtually putting its foot in mouth, the saffron party released a poster with a photograph of a “smiling” farmer on its Facebook page to publicize its ‘MSP will stay’ stand, only to remove it later after finding that the “smiling farmer” is amongst the thousands staging dharna at the outskirts of the national capital.The party’s move to attack the opposition over the farm laws boomeranged with the farmer, identified as Harpreet Singh from Hoshiarpur and currently protesting at Singhu border, threatening to send a legal notice to the saffron party for using his “six years old” photograph that too “without permission”.
Going into background of the matter, Punjab BJP on Monday released a post on the social networking site, Facebook, sharing a poster with hashtags — #ModiWithFarmers and #MSPHaiAurRahega — to show how the Government is procuring farmers’ produce at MSP with an assurance that it would continue in future also.
The post, which says that Government agencies have bought paddy worth Rs 77,957.83 crore at MSP so far and 49 percent of the purchase is from Punjab alone, also added that some forces are misleading the farmers and running their agenda.
But, in a major goof-up, the farmers’ image used in the poster turned out to be of Harpreet Singh, a Masters in Software Engineering from the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Pune, who has been staging protest at Singhu since past two weeks.
Unaware, 36-year-old Harpreet was actively participating in the farmers’ protest at Delhi border when his friends called him on Monday night to inform him about his “face” being used in BJP’s pro-farm laws poster.
On Tuesday, Harpreet released a video message to assert his support to the farmers’ ongoing agitation, while warning the saffron party with a legal notice.
“I don’t know how and why the BJP used my picture that was clicked way back in 2014…I am protesting here in Delhi and only last night, my friends informed me about the ad. I have asked them to flag the use of my picture by BJP in the social media post so that it can be taken down,” said ‘shocked’ Harpreet.
Also an actor, Harpreet lashed out on the BJP for using his picture without his permission. “They have been shameless by using my picture in their poster, while I’m protesting against the farm laws at Singhu border. They have made me a poster boy of the BJP without my permission,” he said.
“I oppose the farm laws and can never be a part of their promotion. They have used my Sikh identity to show people are happy but that’s not the case.
They should come to Singhu to know how many farmers are really happy. MSP is not the only issue, there are collective demands. Punjab is at Delhi’s border and we will return only after the laws are repealed,” he said.
However, the state BJP spokesperson informed The Pioneer that the matter would be looked into as the party’s IT wing handles all these things.
Notably, the farmers have been staging protest against the Centre’s three contentious agriculture laws, passed by the Parliament in September this year.
The Government has projected the laws as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country, while the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of the minimum support price and do away with the mandis, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.