Two-time MLA from Punjab’s Ferozepur Sukhpal Singh Nannu on Thursday quit the Bharatiya Janata Party, protesting against the Centre’s three farm laws, The Tribune reported.

Nannu had won the Assembly elections on a BJP ticket in 2002 and 2007. However, he lost the two subsequent elections in 2012 and 2017.

Thousands of farmers have camped at the borders of Delhi since November, firm on their demand that the central government repeal the three laws that open up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies. The agitation against the farm laws has been particularly fierce in Punjab.

Nannu formally left the party on Thursday, hours after confronting the BJP’s leadership in Punjab about the farm laws. Nannu said that the saffron party’s state president Ashwani Sharma should be held responsible for the BJP’s present situation in the state, and alleged that the state leadership failed to keep the party flock together.

The former Ferozepur MLA also alleged that the BJP’s state leadership “did not present the right picture” to the national-level high command, PTI reported. “Since the time the agri laws were passed, I was the first one who opposed those bills,” he said.

Nannu broke into tears while addressing the media at his house. He said that his supporters were upset by the deaths of farmers during the protests against the agriculture-related laws, and forced him to make a decision ahead of the 2022 Assembly election, according to PTI.

“The BJP flag had always remained atop my house,” The Indian Express quoted Nannu as saying. “But now I have removed it with a heavy heart and replaced it with a black flag to express my anger towards the Central government for not the resolving farmers’ issues to date.”

The former MLA denied rumours that he may join the Shiromani Akali Dal, and said he is not going to join any party as of now.

He also said that he would write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him if he was getting the “correct feedback” about the farmers.

Nannu told mediapersons that he regretted not quitting the party earlier, but had hoped that the matter regarding the farmers’ protests may be resolved over time. “However, now it seems that the party [the BJP] is not serious at all,” he was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

The Punjab Assembly elections are expected to be held in February or March 2022. The Congress will seek to retain power and fend off the challenges by the Akali Dal-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance, the Aam Aadmi Party, and BJP.

The BJP had performed poorly in the municipal elections held in February, and lost even its stronghold of Pathankot to the Congress. The farmers’ protest is believed to have played a significant role in the BJP’s performance.

The protesting farmers fear the central government’s new laws will make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation and would dismantle the minimum support price regime. The Centre, however, says that the laws will give farmers more access to markets and boost production through private investment.