EVEN AS the clamour for his resignation continued to grow among protesting farmers, who also enjoy support from a section of his Jannayak Janata Party (JPP), Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Singh Chautala on Tuesday sought to dismiss the anger against the farm Bills as a “misunderstanding”.
“A doubt was created in the minds of farmers that they are going to lose their Minimum Support Price (MSP). On our side, we are trying to remove their doubts. The government will purchase their crops at MSP and the farmer will be the happiest person,” said Chautala, clearly throwing his weight behind his partner in the ruling alliance in the state, the BJP.
He also praised the Centre for the increase in MSP. “I believe such a hike in MSP did not take place earlier. Chaudhary Devi Lal had taught us how to make farmers prosper. It’s our responsibility to strengthen them further,” he added.
The ongoing farmers agitation against the Centre three farm Bills which even prompted SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal to resign from the Union Cabinet has put Haryana’s deputy CM in a bind. On Sunday, two JJP MLA’s had even joined hands with the protesting farmers as they blocked roads.
Soon after Harsimrat’s resignation, the Opposition and farmers organisations intensified their pressure on Dushyant to resign. “If he doesn’t resign, we will ask all of his MLAs to resign from his party to join hands with the farmers,” said Gurnam Singh Chaduni, BKU leader, who is leading the farmers’ stir in Haryana.
JJP MLA from Barwala constituency Jogi Ram Sihag not only joined the farmers’ protest on September 20 but even demanded that the three Bills be withdrawn for the time being.
A few days ago, Dushyant had condemned the police action on farmers at Kurukshetra’s Pipli on September 10. His younger brother Digvijay had even gone to meet an injured farmer, and stated that “lathicharge on farmers was equivalent to lathicharge on the Devi Lal family”. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Monday insisted that no lathicharge had taken place in Pipli, a claim state Home Minister Anil Vij has been making since September 11.
In the recent past, Dushyant has faced attacks from JJP MLAs Ram Kumar Gautam and Devender Babli as well.
‘Doubts of farmers will go once procurement at rate of MSP starts Oct 1’
Speaking to The Indian Express, Dushyant said that the doubts of farmers will be removed automatically when procurement of crops including paddy at the rate of MSP will start taking place from October 1.
“We are trying to remove their doubts. They will be pacified when their produce will come to the mandis. The government will purchase their crops at MSP and the farmer will be the happiest person. On Monday, the central government had increased the MSP of crops and I believe such a hike in MSP did not take place earlier. Chaudhary Devi Lal had taught us how to make farmers prosper. It’s our responsibility to strengthen them further,” he said.
Asked about the participation of two JJP MLAs in farmers’ protests, he said, “All those who are farmers had participated in the protest. But in the way, a confusion was being spread ten days back over MSP…it has now been removed.”
Commenting on the demand for his resignation, Dushyant said, “Those people in Opposition who are talking had indeed drafted a policy on agriculture which has been introduced now with minor changes.”
Sources close to Dushyant made it clear that the deputy CM is not going to resign on the issue of farm bills, adding that the party wants to push “pro-farmer policies” while remaining a partner of the ruling coalition.
Hisar-based political observer Rishi Saini said that the “main challenge before Dushyant is apprehensions in the mind of farmers regarding the three farm Bills. “A large section of farmers believe that they may lose their land to the capitalists after implementation of the Bills. If this apprehension continues, Dushyant may lose the support base among farmers,” he added.
In an attempt to woo the arhtiyas (commission agents at mandis), the state government has accepted some of their demands while reducing the market fee. The arhtiyas too had protested farm Bills.
JJP & Haryana’s farmers
Less than a year after its formation (due to a split in the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD)), the JJP had won 10 seats in the 2019 Assembly polls held for 90 seats, surprising many when Dushyant had emerged as a “king maker”. JJP then joined hands with the BJP to form a government. In that election, former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala’s INLD could win just one seat, indicating that his vote bank had shifted to Dushyant.
It is widely believed that the JJP’s success was because of the support of the farming communities. Farmers are also an important support base for the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in neighbouring Punjab. With close family ties between Chautalas and Badals since decades, SAD and the INLD have been political allies too for long.
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