Troubles are mounting for CM Manohar Lal Khattar and BJP in Haryana as the standoff between farmers and Union government continues and the confrontation is escalating on national capital’s borders.
While another round of talks between farmers and government is scheduled for Thursday, but farmers do not have much hopes from this. Riding high on its victory in Baroda bypoll, main opposition in Haryana, the Congress, has already started smelling an opportunity in the increasing anger of people against ruling BJP and JJP.
At least 11 BJP MLAs, five Independent MLAs and five JJP MLAs including, Dushyant Chautala, and his mother, Naina Chautala, are directly involved in agriculture and have mentioned “agriculture or farmer” as their “profession” in their election-affidavits filed in 2019 Assembly polls. Several others are either involved in commission business or are indirectly associated with agriculture income in Haryana.
Such BJP MLAs include Sitaram (Ateli), Dura Ram (Fatehabad), Harvinder Kalyan (Gharaunda), Vinod Bhayana (Hansi), Parveen Dagar (Hathin), Kanwar Pal (Jagadhari), Leela Ram (Kaithal), JP Dalal (Loharu), Ranbir Gangwa (Nalwa), and Sanjay Singh (Sohna). Independent MLAs include Sombir Sangwan (Dadri), Dharampal Gonder (Nilokheri), Nayan Pal Rawat (Prithla), Randhir Singh Gollen (Pundri), and Ranjit Singh (Rania). And the list of such JJP MLAs includes Naina Chautala (Bhadra), Jogi Ram Sihag (Barwala), Ishwar Singh (Guhla), Ram Karan (Shahbad), and Dushyant Chautala (Uchana Kalan).
Haryana BJP MLA, Aseem Goel, whose family is into arhtiya business, had staged a protest outside Haryana Vidhan Sabha citing irregularities in crop procurement in October. In the same month, JJP MLA Jogi Ram Sihag had turned down the post of Housing Board chairman showing solidarity with farmers. JJP’s another MLA, Ram Kumar Gautam, has been vociferously critical of his own party and BJP, too.
Farmers on Wednesday announced nationwide protests on December 3 and 5, showing that they had little hope of this issue getting resolved soon.
In that case, if the standoff continues and agitation is prolonged, pressure is all set to increase on various Haryana MLAs including Independent MLAs and Dushyant Chautala-led JJP with whose support only BJP could form the government after falling short of majority by six seats in 2019 Assembly polls.
Since 2019, BJP had continued to witness a sliding graph in Haryana. From coming to power with a thumping majority in 2014 Assembly polls to winning all 10 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 with huge margins in May, the party failed to form the government on its own in October. BJP won 40, Congress – 31, JJP – 10, Independents — 7 and HLP and INLD – one each. While JJP entered into a post-poll alliance with BJP, all seven Independents and Haryana Lokhit Party’s Gopal Kanda supported BJP.
The party flunked in its second test too when it badly lost Baroda bypoll in November and Congress started pitching their campaign on the slogan that “countdown of BJP-JJP government has begun”. Farmers agitation followed, soon after that.
Sources in BJP told The Indian Express that various senior leaders had been citing ongoing pandemic as a primary reason for which they failed to go among the masses and could not convince them about the benefits in the three contentious farm legislations. Opposition, on the other hand, managed to keep raking up the farmers’ doubts and succeeded in creating a wave of distrust in the new legislations. Several BJP MPs from Haryana too admitted that they “failed” to convince farmers on the new farm legislations.
Out of the 90 Assembly constituencies of Haryana, at least 40 are majorly rural area dominating constituencies and JJP’s major vote bank comes from the rural belt. Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala’s consistent silence ever since farmers began camping on Delhi’s borders has raised many eyebrows. With the standoff intensifying, JJP too has started giving ample hints that it would also be forced to think about its “future strategy” if the talks between farmers and union government fails.
“Our party’s senior leaders are keeping a close watch on the ongoing talks between farmers and the Union government. We shall take our next decision after the talks conclude. JJP is farmers party and will remain in favour of the farmers, till eternity. We will never stop talking about Chaudhary Devi Lal’s vision and rights of farmers”, JJP’s youth wing leader and Dushyant’s younger brother, Digvijay, had said, Tuesday. Contradicting various BJP leaders’ assertions calling the ongoing agitation “politically motivated”, Digvijay said, “Union Home Minister and various senior leaders have already said that it is not a political agitation. JJP too believes that it is an agitation of farmers’ sentiments.”
Sources in Congress told The Indian Express that several JJP and even BJP MLAs were likely to pull out of the alliance government in the state soon. Haryana’s Leader of Opposition and former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda told The Indian Express, “Although Dushyant has not yet contacted me, but yes several MLAs are in touch. They will eventually have to make a choice between their chairs and farmers. Farmers are the ones who voted them to power. Now, these farmers need their elected representatives’ support. Rather than standing by their side, these people (JJP and Independent MLAs) are sticking to their chairs. JJP calls itself a Kisan-hitaishi party. But, in reality they are the kursi-hitaishi party. Right from day 1, I have been saying – vote kisi ki, support kisi ki. JJP sought votes from the people to oust BJP. Rather, they themselves sat in BJP’s lap and ignored those who voted for them. Now is the time, all these Independent MLAs and JJP must clear their stand that on whose side they are – farmers or their chairs.”
“It is not Congress due to which these MLAs are withdrawing their support. Farmers want their elected representatives to stand with them in this hour of need. Farmers are feeling betrayed by these people whom they voted in a hope that they would take decisions in their welfare. However, today these MLAs are supporting a party [BJP] that has forced annadata of the state to take to the streets,” Hooda said.
Taking a dig at CM Khattar, Hooda said, “Whenever an hour of crisis comes in the state, this government collapses entirely. Be it Dera Sacha Sauda chief’s arrest or Jat agitation. Army was never called in Haryana’s history, but this BJP government called Army as it failed to control the anger of people of its own state. In farmers’ agitation too, it is a complete failure on part of senior BJP leadership. One minister is saying that no lathi charge took place, another says mild lathi charge happened, another says only water canon was used. How ridiculous is this? What was the need to stand in farmers’ way? They were as such going to a designated place in Delhi – be it Burari or Ramlila Maidan. Haryana government had no business to stop them. Using water canons on poor farmers in this ongoing pandemic is a display of extreme cruelty.”
Haryana Agriculture Minister J P Dalal, however, said that “There is no possibility of the government falling in Haryana. There are people who want to become martyrs by barely sacrificing their finger. People of Haryana know who is doing drama and who is honestly working for their welfare. The government’s sole aim is to work in farmers’ interest. Talks are the only solution when there are doubts. There is no problem which has no solution. Union government is ready to take any decision in the interest of farmers.”
“Yesterday’s meeting had remained inconclusive. Government wanted to constitute a committee, which everybody rejected. Although we do not have much hope that a decision will be taken in tomorrow’s meeting, but we will go for the talks. But, if the government does not accept our demands soon, there is a possibility that we will have to seal the remaining borders of Delhi too”, Haryana BKU president Gurnam Singh Chadhuni said.