Three day after lathicharge on Haryana farmers at Pipli in Kurukshetra, Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala Sunday broke his silence and condemned the “Pipli incident” while raising questions in the manner the September 10 farmers’ stir was handled.
For the past three days, the opposition has been taking on CM Manohar Lal Khattar and Dushyant, who is a senior leader of Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), blaming both of them for the police action against farmers’ protesting against Center’s agri ordinances. A day after the lathicharge (September 11), Farmers had even staged a protest in front of Dushyant’s private residence at Sirsa.
The JJP, which projects itself as a political outfit dedicated to “protecting interests of farmers”, has been at the receiving end “for not siding with farmers” on the lathicharge issue despite Dushyant’s younger brother, Digvijay Chautala, condemning the incident on September 10 itself.
On the day of the lathicharge, Digvijay had stated: “Resorting to lathicharge is brutal especially on a senior citizen as the photos being played on media show. We don’t expect such things to take place. It has hurt the sentiments of farmers in general and we understand their pain.” In fact, after Digvijay’s remarks, two BJP MPs – Dharambir Singh and Brijendra Singh – too had openly spoken against the lathicharge episode.
On Sunday, Dushyant Chautala spoke out openly against the incident. He said, “Certainly, I would like to say one thing that the incident which took place at Pipli is condemnable. There should be a probe against those persons who first stopped, but later gave permission (for the rally).”
Defending Dushyant’s earlier silence on the matter, JJP’s state office secretary, Randhir Singh, told The Indian Express that the Deputy CM was not well for the past three days because of infection in his throat.
Farmer protests to continue
Meanwhile, the agitating farmers have announced that they will block roads across Haryana on September 20 for three hours – from 12 noon to 3 pm – to oppose three central ordinances and to seek a law, which ensures minimum support price (MSP) for their crops. The leaders of farm bodies held a meeting at Jind Sunday where they announced dharnas at all district headquarters from September 15. Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) president Gurnam Singh Chaduni, who is leading the stir in Haryana, was also present in the meeting. “No political party would be allowed to enter in the stir,” they resolved.
Farmer leaders clarified that they haven’t met the three-member committee of the BJP MPs – Dharambir Singh, Brijendra Singh and Nayab Singh Saini — which has been formed by the state unit of the party to hold talks with the farmers. “If any talks are held, then the same would be held in the presence of all participating farm organisations,” says Rakesh Bains, a leader of the BKU.
Meanwhile, the three-member committee of BJP MPs continued to meet farmers and other stakeholders conjunctively on the second day on Sunday.
Speaking to The Indian Express, BJP MP Dharambir Singh said that they, along with representatives of farmers, will meet the Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar before introduction of the bills related to three central ordinances in Parliament.
“We will try to meet Tomar by September 16 so that the farmers’ representatives may give their suggestions to him before the bills are discussed in Parliament,” said Dharambir Singh indicating that the farmers may meet the Union Minister in the presence of state Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and state BJP president Om Prakash Dhankar. When asked about the suggestions given by farmers, Dharambir Singh said they want MSP for crops and the current mandi system to continue.
Dushyant also insisted that “there will be no ban on the procurement of wheat and paddy at the rate of MSP even after the introduction of the three central ordinances”.
“The MSP system will continue. The system of mandis won’t collapse. Savings of the farmers would be more after the introduction of the three ordinances,” he added, while blaming the opposition for propaganda on three central ordinances.
BJP panel formed to mislead farmers: Hooda
Meanwhile, former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda has questioned the committee of three MPs formed by the BJP to talk to the agitating farmers. Hooda alleged “the aim of the committee is to mislead the farmers”.
“If the committee has any power, then it should first take action against those who hit farmers with sticks. The committee should immediately withdraw the cases lodged against the farmers. On one hand, the government is suppressing the farmers’ stir by showing fear of legal cases, while on the other hand they are offering a dialogue,” Hooda said.
Hooda asked that if the state Chief Minister and the Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister have already described the ordinances as a “pro-farmer reform”, then who will even consider the recommendations of the committee formed by the state BJP president?
“Will the central government change its decision on the basis of recommendation of this committee formed only to mislead the farmers of the state? Why did the government run away from discussing the bill in the Assembly under the guise of corona? The government needs to tell the farmers why it brought the ordinances during the corona era? Were the provisions of the ordinances discussed with farm organisations and farmer leaders before they were introduced in June? Why were they not brought before Parliament first?” Hooda asked.
The Leader of Opposition further questioned, “Will the BJP support us if the Congress brings a private member bill in the session of the Assembly in future to guarantee MSP to farmers? If the BJP does not do this, will these three ordinances be rejected on the lines of Punjab?”
Hooda said that if the BJP was serious about protecting the interests of the farmers, it would have consulted them before bringing these three ordinances. “If the government were serious about accepting the demand of the farmers, instead of imposing the ordinances on the farmers, they would have added the provision of guarantee of MSP to it,” Hooda remarked. He added that a separate Ordinance should be brought for this (MSP), if needed.
The Leader of Opposition stated that the committee floated by the BJP “is an attempt to break the unity of the farmers by diverting attention from the real issues”.
“Rather than talking to farmer organisations that are fighting the battle against the ordinances, they are talking to their own organisations,” said Hooda.
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