The SAD-BJP alliance, which tasted defeat in Punjab polls last year, is seeing Modi's rally as a lucrative opportunity to woo the farmers of Punjab ahead of Lok Sabha polls next year, especially after the hike in Minimum Support Price (MSP) of several crops.

The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) announced on Saturday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would address a massive rally for farmers – ‘Kisan Kalyan Rally’ – on July 11 at Malout town in district Sri Muktsar Sahib of Punjab. Farmers from three states- Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan- will be the target audiences, said SAD-BJP leaders.

The SAD-BJP alliance, which tasted defeat in Punjab polls last year, is seeing Modi’s rally as a lucrative opportunity to woo the farmers of Punjab ahead of Lok Sabha polls next year, especially after the hike in Minimum Support Price (MSP) of several crops, including paddy and cotton announced by the central government.

With few days to go for the rally, senior BJP and SAD leaders held meetings on Saturday with their respective party workers and passed directions on gathering maximum crowds. The arrangement of vehicles was also discussed to ferry farmers to Malout.

While BJP state president Shwait Malik held a meeting of BJP leaders in Jalandhar, former CM Parkash Singh Badal and MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal held separate meetings with SAD workers at their native village Badal in Lambi division of Muktsar. Former CM Parkash Singh Badal met SAD workers and local leaders from district Muktsar whereas union food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal held a meeting with SAD workers from her constituency Bathinda.

The meeting focused on gathering maximum crowds for Modi’s rally. Sources said that target is to gather at least 60,000 people to listen to Modi.
Party president and former deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal is also expected to hold several meetings after reaching the village Saturday late.

In the meeting, Badal told workers that they should see it as a ‘thanksgiving’ event for Modi as he has bailed out farmers by increasing MSP of crops. Also, Badal has asked SAD workers to ensure that maximum gathering is from his constituency Lambi from where he himself is MLA. Badal had defeated Captain Amarinder Singh from Lambi by more than 24,000 votes last year. More than 100 buses will be leaving from Lambi taking farmers to rally venue, said sources.

“For the first time any central government has taken such a big pro- farmers decision by increasing MSP of all the crops including paddy by Rs. 200/quintal,” said Malik after meeting at Jalandhar, adding that it would be a joint SAD- BJP rally under the leadership of former CM Parkash Singh Badal.

“While the Punjab government is decreasing the limits of the loan credits to the farmers from its Cooperative banks, the Centre has given big farmers a big push by raising MSP,” he said.


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