Haryana: Khattar govt feels heat of farmers protest, threat to BJP-JJP alliance looms large

The agitation has even caused a split in the state unit of the BJP with a section of the BJP MLAs coming in support of the peasants

Haryana: Khattar govt  feels heat of farmers protest, threat to BJP-JJP alliance looms large

Bipin Bhardwaj

Even as Haryana is on a boil due to farmers protesting against the farm bills recently passed by Parliament, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has failed to do much to convince the farmers whose agitation has even caused a split in the state unit of the BJP with a section of the BJP MLAs coming in support of the peasants.

The Haryana BJP is seen divided on the farmers issue as the government has outrightly denied the police lathicharge on agitating farmers at Pipli in Kurukshetra on Sunday. On the very next day, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar claimed that no orders were given to lathi-charge protesting farmers in Kurukshetra, differing with Jannayak Janata Party's (JJPs) version of the incident. The state home minister Anil Vij even went a step ahead, claiming that force was used to disperse the farmers and no medico-legal report (MLR) was reported and nobody was injured.

However, Haryana BJP Chief OP Dhankar claimed that the dispute should have been solved through a dialogue. The lathicharge was not an appropriate tool to solve the issue. Dhankar, a former Agriculture Minister in the first Khattar government, is trying his best to pacify the agitating farmers to make his positing strong at the grassroot levels.

On Thursday, he said that the farmers’ interest was paramount and contrary to what was being propagated by the Congress, there would be no change in the existing MSP regime or system of mandis.

Two BJP MPs, Dharambir Singh and Brijendra Singh, had condemned the way the farmers’ stir at Pipli was handled by authorities and described the lathicharge as “painful”.

After holding a “secret” meeting under the leadership of Parminder Singh Dhull, a former MLA from Julana Assembly constituency, at Panchkula, five former legislators of the BJP announced fighting for farmers’ interests. The former MLAs, who are now with the BJP, said they would stand with farmers in case the ruling party fails to address their issues. Those who attended the meeting include MLAs Balwan Singh Daulatpuria (Fatehabad), Rampal Majra (Kalayat), Shyam Singh Rana (Radaur) and Buta Singh (Guhla).

Moreover, a threat to the political alliance between the BJP and JJP in Haryana is looming large with some party members extending support to the farmers, challenging Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala who has thrown his weight behind the ruling BJP in Haryana.

The JJP's overwhelming success in the last state assembly elections was due to the support of the farmer community and the party's top leadership  is not coming in support of the protesting farmers. Dushyant Chautala has termed the agitation as an outcome of farmers’ “misunderstanding” the issues involved.

"A doubt was created in the minds of farmers that they are going to lose the Minimum Support Price (MSP) on their agricultural produce. We are trying to remove their doubts as the government will purchase their crops at MSP to make them happy," claimed Chautala. “Chaudhary Devi Lal taught us how to make farmers prosper. It’s our responsibility to strengthen them further,” he added.

However, two of two party’s MLAs joined hands with the protesting farmers as they blocked roads on Sunday. Jogi Ram Sihag, MLA from Barwala assembly constituency, while protesting against the farm bills even demanded their withdrawal for the time being.

Dushyant and his brother Digvijay Chautala too had condemned the police action on agitating farmers in Kurukshetra. Digvijay even demanded a probe and met the farmers injured in the lathicharge.

Political pundits, however, are of the opinion that the JJP, which is believed to be a farmer-oriented party, may no longer go along with the BJP on the issue. A large section of farmers are concerned about losing their land to the big players in the agriculture sector after the bills are enacted as laws and implemented. If this apprehension continues, the JJP might lose its base among the farmer community, they opine.

Meanwhile, the BJP-JJP alliance has started facing public fury, with villagers slamming doors on leaders of the ruling political parties across the state. Up in arms against the farm bills, the residents of Ambala have banned the entry of the BJP and the JJP leaders to their village.

Joining hands with the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), farmers at Jalbehra village decided to ban entry of the leaders to the village while strongly opposing the new legislations, terming it  “anti-farmer” and “anti-farm labourer”. Banners have come up at the entry points of the village asking leaders to go away.

State Agriculture Minister JP Dalal had to face this public fury when BKU activists, villagers and sacked physical training instructors (PTIs) showed him black flags in Mudlana village in Sonepat on Thursday. Dalah was visiting Mundlana to address a public meeting. As soon as he reached the village, protesters showed him black flags, gheraoed his car and raised slogans against the BJP-JJP state government. The minister was forced to sit in his car for a long time as the police failed to pacify the protesters.

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