In an embarassing gaffe for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), it became apparent on Tuesday that the saffron party's Punjab unit had ended up using the photo of a protesting farmer on one of its posters to gather support in favour of the farm laws.
Harpreet Singh, who is part of the farmers' agitation against the three contentious farm laws passed recently by the Centre, was surprised to find himself making an appearence as the BJP's "poster boy", especially when the entire farmers' protest itself is directed against the saffron party-led central government.
The poster, which was published on the official Facebook page of the BJP Punjab unit, had Harpreet Singh's photo on it, along with statistics pertaining to the Minimum Support Prices (MSP) and the government's farm procurement. The post was aimed at drumming up support for the farm laws, over which the entire contention rests.
Singh was found annoyed and enraged in Twitter over the use of his photo in an official BJP Punjab poster which is the completely opposite of what he is protesting against.
Singh, who goes by the moniker 'Harp farmer' among his friends and on social media, is a postgraduate in Software Engineering from the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in Pune. Owing to the fact that his family owns a 2-acre land back at his village, Nadalon, in Punjab's Hoshiarpur district, Singh has been actively involved with the farmers' protest and the several photos which he took at the protest site have gone viral on social media.
In an interview with The Tribune, Harpreet Singh said that he himself had laughed off the incident at first, when his friends informed him about the Facebook post. However, it was only later that he realised that the poster was "so insenstive" and got angry over it.
"How could they do it without my permission? In a lighter vein, the artist has not even bothered to edit my picture professionally. The artist has used it from my pictures on the internet,” Singh told the news portal.
According to reports, BJP Punjab spokesperson Janardan Sharma has said that the party will immediately be looking into the issue.
Thousands of farmers are currently staying put at Delhi's borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in protest against the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
They have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporations.
However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.