Even as the standoff between farmers and the central government continued at the borders of Delhi, several BJP MPs from Haryana described the protesters as “annadaata” (providers of grain), and some said that using force on them and calling them names was “incorrect” and “wrong”.
While the 10 BJP members of Lok Sabha from Haryana broadly supported the Centre’s three new farm laws, some of them said there was some “gadbad” (problems) with them.
The MPs accused the Opposition, especially the Congress, of instigating the farmers; however, they accepted that the BJP had been “unsuccessful” in convincing them of the “benefits” of the laws.
Contrary to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s assertion that “Haryana’s farmers were not part of the Delhi Chalo movement”, the MPs acknowledged that agriculturalists from the state were participants in the ongoing agitation. They also recalled that their handsome victories in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections were due to the support they received from farmers.
Referring to Khattar’s statement that the protesters were Congress workers and farmers from Punjab, the BJP MP from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh, Dharambir Singh, said, “We should be clear that a farmer is a farmer. He does not belong to any political party. It is wrong to say that [he] is not our farmer. The farmer comes first, only then comes the political party, because the farmer is our annadaata.”
Dharambir said he believed the Prime Minister would “surely” find a solution after the all-party meeting on December 4. “The winter is becoming harsher and the coronavirus pandemic is raging. The farmers will suffer, and that will lead to disruption,” he said.
“I would say farmers voted for us in large numbers. All 10 MPs won with margins of lakhs of votes. We won in areas dominated by farmers, so it should not be said that farmers are Congress supporters. Farmers are with us, and have full faith in the Prime Minister.”
No politician should talk loosely about the farmers, Dharambir said. “Kisi bhi neta ne aisi ulti-seedhi baatein nahin karni chahiye, bilkul bhi nahi karni chahiye.
“Bilkul pyaar se… woh hamaare hain, hum unke hain. Ek line le ke chaloge, tabhi baat banegi kyunki pradhan mantri chahte hain ki unki (farmers’) aamdani badhe, usi ke raaste mein mujhe lagta hai ki ghalat-fehmiyan toh hui hain kahin na kahin. (We should treat them well, they are our people. Only then will a solution emerge… the Prime Minister wants their income to increase, I think there has been a misunderstanding somewhere.)”
According to Dharambir, there are only two-three issues (“kewal do-teen cheez”) “jahan pe kahin na kahin gadbad hai” (where there is a problem). Also, he alleged, the administration at the local level was corrupt, as a result of which farmers were suffering.
MP from Hisar Brijendra Singh, the son of former Union minister Birender Singh, said that “although the protesting farmers are primarily from Punjab, there is no doubt that farmers from Haryana are also going (to Delhi)”. Even though the laws had not been brought without warning, the “communication could have been better before the Bills were passed”, he said.
“For the past many years, discussions were being held (on these policies). Reports of experts, committees and even the manifesto of the Congress had pointed in the same direction. Today, they (Congress) might try to cover it up… (Punjab Chief Minister) Amarinder (Singh) ji had allowed private mandis in 2017; it is a different matter that they were never opened,” Brijendra said.
Ambala MP Rattan Lal Kataria said he had been part of the farmers’ talks earlier with Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Rajnath Singh. “We reiterate that the three farm laws are in the interest of farmers. The government is always ready to listen… We can convince the farmers, but the political colour that has been given to this situation is not correct,” Kataria said.
According to Kataria, the Congress had hatched a “conspiracy” to ride the agitation of the farmers for its own revival. He conceded, however, that BJP leaders were facing intense opposition in Haryana on account of the farm laws. “When we took out a tractor rally in support of the farm laws, I too had to face an agitation for nearly three hours near Naraingarh.”
On the cane charges and use of tear gas and water cannon on farmers, Kataria said: “The farmer is the annadaata of the nation… There was one sector during this pandemic — the farmer and his produce — that saved India. Farmers generated even more produce than last year. It was only because of the grain stocks that the government could distribute rations until November. When the annadaata is doing so much for the nation, who would like to wield sticks on him? But, there are certain limitations, problems of law and order. Every effort is made that a farmer is not even touched, but mischievous elements make the situation worse.”
Some MPs such as Sunita Duggal of Sirsa said the protests were “sponsored” by the Congress. “They (Congress) are trying to mislead our farmer brothers but they won’t be able to mislead them for a long time… The participation of Haryana farmers in the agitation is negligible,” she said.
Krishan Pal Gurjar (Faridabad) said the new laws were meant to free farmers and double their incomes. “But our opponents are misleading them… Except a few farmers who believe the Congress, the rest have not participated in this agitation. Most protesters are from Punjab,” he said.
Nayab Singh Saini (Kurukshetra) said: “Farmers should not be misled by these people (Congress). You (farmers) should trust Narendra Modi, who has worked to strengthen farmers over the past six years.”
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