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After bypoll loss, standoff with farmers comes as another blow to Khattar govt

Farmers' entry into the national capital now has come as another blow to Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP and Dushyant Chautala-led JJP alliance government in Haryana, after alliance's defeat in recently held Baroda bypoll.

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh | November 27, 2020 11:49:03 pm
CM Manohar Lal Khattar on farmers protestHaryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. (File Photo)

From erecting multilayer blockades to firing teargas shells and water cannons on the agitated farmers, the BJP-JJP government did all it could to prevent marching farmers from moving towards Delhi, but yet failed to restrict them. Farmers’ entry into the national capital now has come as another blow to Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP and Dushyant Chautala-led JJP alliance government in Haryana, after alliance’s defeat in recently held Baroda bypoll.

As Delhi government allowed entry to farmers, Khattar apparently chose to move out of their way and tweeted: “Union government is always ready for talks. I appeal to all my farmer brothers that they should hold talks with the Centre, directly, for their legitimate issues. Agitation is not the way out – its solution will emerge from talks only.”

In Baroda bypoll, main opposition political party in Haryana, Congress had focussed its entire campaign around the farmers’ agitation against the three central farm legislations. After a crushing defeat in Baroda causing immense embarrassment to the BJP-JJP alliance, the standoff with farmers is being seen as the second consecutive signal to BJP-JJP alliance of anger brewing against it in the farming community.

Despite CM Khattar’s assurances on MSP’s continuation and several invitations to farmer outfit leaders, farmers refused to even talk to him. Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala, however, remained silent for the last three days ever since farmers began marching towards Delhi.

BJP’s state chief OP Dhankar, however, said, “This agitation is organised by Punjab’s chief minister Amarinder Singh. If he is so farmer-friendly, he should send SYL’s water too to Haryana. Supreme Court had already ruled in Haryana’s favour”.

Jat-dominated agitation

Majority of the farmers, who are now protesting against the three central farm legislations, come from the Jat community.

In 2019, the BJP had to face the wrath of Jat community, a politically dominant votebank in the state. As a result, BJP could not even secure the majority in 90-member House despite a strong Narendra Modi wave across the country. Barring Khattar (Karnal) and Anil Vij (Ambala cantonment), eight of their Cabinet colleagues including Jat leaders Capt Abhimanyu (Narnaund) and Om Prakash Dhankar (Badli), and six others Ram Bilas Sharma (Mahendragarh), Kavita Jain (Sonipat), Krishan Lal Panwar (Israna), Manish Kumar Grover (Rohtak), Krishan Kumar Bedi (Shahbad) and Karan Dev Kamboj (Radaur) were defeated.

With the farmers moving ahead with their protest, pressure mounts on JJP chief and Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala too as his party has rural voters as its major strength.

In 2019 Assembly polls, Dushyant and JJP had openly criticised BJP and sought votes to oust it. However, after JJP that was contesting its maiden Assembly polls won 10 seats, Dushyant entered into a post-poll alliance with BJP and grabbed the coveted post of Deputy CM. Farmers had been agitating against Dushyant ever since.

When SAD’s Harsimrat Badal resigned from her ministerial berth and Sukhbir Badal announced SAD’s withdrawal from NDA, farmers in Haryana started looking towards Dushyant and his JJP that he may also take the decision in their support and withdraw his support from BJP.

However, the anger rose against Dushyant when he started defending the three farm legislations leading to immense protests outside his residence in Sirsa.

In the ongoing farmers’ protest, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh had put Khattar-led BJP-JJP alliance in a tight spot.

Amarinder, Sukhbir Badal and several other Punjab politicians openly criticised PM Modi and BJP accusing Khattar of using force against farmers at the behest of central leadership.

Attempt to suppress peaceful protest failed: Hooda

Congress, on the other hand, was quick to capitalise Friday’s developments. Leader of Opposition and former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda was quick to release a statement urging Congress workers to extend all possible help to farmers for their stay, ration and medical treatment. Haryana Congress chief Kumari Selja too announced that once Congress government is voted to power, it will withdraw all three central farm legislations.

“This BJP-JJP government tried its best to suppress a peaceful movement, in a dictatorial manner. In democracy, every citizen and section of society has the constitutional right to peaceful demonstration for their demands. The government should leave its stubborn attitude and talk to the farmers and accept their demands, at the earliest. New agricultural laws cannot be in the interest of the farmers without the guarantee of MSP. Farmers did not trust the verbal assurances given by the government and hence they are demanding that the government brings out another law ensuring MSP. Farmers doubt the government’s intention….,” Hooda said.

The farmers’ ongoing protest and standoff with Haryana government took place at a time when Haryana BJP newly appointed state affairs in-charge Vinod Tawde and co-incharge Annapurna Devi are on a tour of the state to hold meetings with Haryana BJP’s Members of Parliament and MLAs. While Tawde is leader of opposition in Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha, Annapurna is a MP from Jharkhand.

Both the leaders are scheduled to address party workers and hold training camps in Hisar on November 28 and Gurgaon on November 29.

INLD’s Abhay Chautala too took a dig at Haryana government by saying, “Often, protestors block the road and government talk with them on their demands to reopen the roads. However, in Haryana it was the government that blocked the roads and protestors kept opening those to get their demands accepted. It is extremely sad that a government that is giving numerous incentives for promoting industrialisation has chosen to ignore farmers’ legitimate demands even while state’s 70 per cent population is dependent on agriculture. This government will have to change its mindset towards farmers”.

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