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Punjab

Amid heat and dust of campaigning, BJP’s Hans turns to Sufi music to strike a chord with Faridkot's miffed farmers

IANS | May 16, 2024 04:56 PM

FARIDAKOT (PUNJAB): The BJP’s candidate from Faridkot in Punjab is humming songs of Baba Farid, a Sufi saint whose writings are part of Sikh scripture, to soothe the protesting farmers -- a creative renaissance to win hearts.

Legendry Sufi singer-turned-politician Hansraj Hans, who represented Delhi’s North-West constituency in the outgoing Lok Sabha, is currently touring his new battlefield, Faridkot, which is a reserved parliamentary constituency spread over nine Assembly segments.

Like BJP nominees in the other 12 parliamentary seats, the soft-spoken Hans is facing the farmers’ wrath in Faridkot over their demands, including legal guarantee for the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report.

The farmers are also miffed over the crackdown on them on Punjab-Haryana borders.

However, the Centre believes that the farmers’ protests are ‘politically motivated’ and the MSP law demand is ‘unreasonable’.

Padma Shri awardee Hans’ popular songs include ‘Ae Jo Sili Sili Aaoundi Hai Hawa’ and ‘Dil Tote Tote Ho Gaya.’

Hailing from Shafipur Village of Jalandhar, Hans was trained by Ustad Puran Shah Koti in Sufi singing.

He won the North West Delhi seat by a huge margin in 2019 by defeating the AAP’s Gagan Singh Ranga.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent me here to serve the people. I am also here to spread love, ” Hans told IANS on being asked about the ongoing protests against him by farmers, especially in rural areas.

Despite tense moments and simmering anger among the people, Hans maintains his cool and seeks votes.

He soothes frayed tempers by turning poetic, singing Sufi songs, telling interesting stories and with his rendition of poetry in a lighter vein.

At times, his poetic performance wins applause amid the tension, a senior BJP leader admitted to IANS.

“Khushboo hain toh har mehfil ko mehkaayenge hum log (if we are fragrance, we will spread our perfume everywhere), ” was one of his couplets at a public meeting this week where he faced a massive protest against the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

As his singer son Navraj Hans joined the campaign, the overwhelmed father remarked, “When my son came to me in Faridkot Lok Sabha constituency with the BJP flag, my enthusiasm reached its peak.”

While campaigning, Hans who declared assets of Rs 16.33 crore, introduces himself to the voters with folded hands saying, “I am your brother. I am not Muhammad bin Tughluq.”

He adds jokingly that people have turned him from ‘Hans Raj Hans’ into “Minnat Raj Minnat”, meaning one who is always pleading.

Hans, who normally dons back headgear, has been facing farmers’ ire and heckling from the very first day of his campaign.

He was denied entry into villages on several occasions.

Seeking votes in PM Modi’s name, Hans does not miss an opportunity to remind the electorate that he has “done a lot for the Sikh community by getting the completion of the Kartarpur corridor done to allow thousands of pilgrims to travel from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur District to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan, the final resting place of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev.”

Hans, who switched sides from the Congress to the BJP, believes India is on the way to becoming a ‘Vishwa guru (world guru)’ under the leadership of the PM.

Farmers’ unions under the banners of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan), the BKU (Krantikari) and Kirti Kisan Union have been protesting with black flags against Hans.

In many places they didn’t let Hans enter the campaigning venue despite heavy security deployment.

Kirti Kisan Union, state Vice President Rajinder Singh said, “The BJP has been working against the farmers. They have not fulfilled their promises. If Hans Raj Hans wants to talk to us, he should come as an Independent and not as a BJP candidate.”

The ruling AAP has pitted acclaimed Punjabi actor-cum-comedian Karamjit Anmol against Hans, while the Congress has fielded former Moga Zila Parishad chairperson Amarjit Kaur Sahoke and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has fielded Rajwinder Singh.

Interestingly, Sarabjit Singh, the son of one of the assassins of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984, is in the fray from this seat as an Independent candidate.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Punjabi folk singer and Congress candidate Muhammad Sadiq secured a win from this seat with 4, 19, 065 votes, while Gulzar Singh Ranike of SAD came in second with 3, 35, 809 votes.

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