With the Akali Dal snapping poll ties with BJP in neighbouring Punjab, farmers protesting against the farm Bills in Haryana plan to take on Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala by announcing a major protest in front of his Sirsa residence from October 6, demanding his resignation.
There are indications that the agitators may launch an indefinite dharna in front of Chautala’s residence, the way Punjab farmers did in the case of the Badal family. They had staged a dharna in front of former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s residence for about a week. It was lifted a few days after SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from the Union Cabinet on September 18.
Asked about the planned protest, Dushyant Chautala told The Indian Express: “I will be happy to meet them, greet them and assure them that the crops will be purchased at the rate of MSP from October 1.”
About SAD snapping ties with BJP, the deputy CM said, “I have already stated that it’s the decision of their party (SAD). They were praising these Bills two months back but today they are opposing the same.”
In the past two weeks, Haryana farmers have blocked roads twice – on September 25 and September 20 – apart from holding a rally on September 10 despite authorities denying permission.
With neighbouring Punjab witnessing intense protests against three farm Bills, the farmer unions in Haryana are gearing up for another phase of agitation. Bhartiya Kisan Union state president Gurnam Singh Chaduni said on Sunday farmer leaders across the country will meet in Kurukshetra on October 8 to decide the next course of agitation.
But agitating farmer groups of Sirsa and Fatehabad districts have announced that they will hold a protest in front of Chautala’s residence in Sirsa. “Farmers from villages will move to the residence of Dushyant Chautala on October 6 as they believe the deputy CM should resign from the post to put pressure on the central government of BJP, which has brought black laws against the farming community,” said Mandeep Nathwan, a young farmer leader from Ratia (Fatehabad), who had led a tractor march of farmers against restrictions on cultivation of paddy a few months ago. The march had prompted the government to modify conditions on paddy farming.
“If Harsimrat Kaur Badal can resign from central government, what is stopping Dushyant from resigning and snapping ties with BJP in Haryana, especially when JJP claims to be a party of farmers. This time the corporates are not only eyeing our crops, but our land too,” says Nathwan, convener of the Kisan Sanghrash Samiti.
Sources in the JJP said the resignation demand was unfair, especially when the party has no member in Parliament where the contentious Bills were passed.
However, the widespread resentment among farmers against the three Bills has prompted a section of party leaders to come forward in their support. Two JJP legislators, Jogi Ram Sihag and Ram Karan Kala, had joined the agitators on September 20.
Two-time MLA and former Chief Parliamentary Secretary Ran Singh Mann, who had actively supported Dushyant’s mother Naina Chautala from Badhra constituency in the October 2019 Assembly polls, wants Dushyant to “stand by farmers”. “The new laws will destroy the farming community,” says Mann, who remained a close associate of Devi Lal and Congress’s Bhupinder Singh Hooda at different occasions. Four BJP leaders, all former MLAs, also recently met to back the farmers’ agitation.
However, ruling BJP-JJP alliance leaders hold Congress accountable for the current farmers stir in the state, blaming Bhupinder Singh Hooda and others for “misguiding the peasants”. Sources in the alliance also indicate that support of arhtiyas (commission agents at mandis) to the agitators has fuelled the farmers’ stir in the state as the new provisions may change the scenario in the mandis.
“With the government allowing direct purchase from farmers, we may not only lose our business, but advance money given to the farmers too. We have made huge investments in the mandis by buying shops in the mandis. What will happen to that if the mandis did not survive after corporates start purchasing from farmers directly?” asked an arhtiya.
On its part, the government has accepted many of the demands of arhtiyas including significant decrease in the market fee. Further, the paddy procurement has been preponed this time to assure farmers the government agencies will buy their crops like previous years. Not only this, senior IAS officers, ministers and MLAs will monitor procurement of paddy so that the farmers don’t face problems.
“When farmers are able to sell their produce in mandis without any problems, all doubts will automatically stand cleared. The JJP is with the farmers. We will sit with the agitator farmers, if the minimum support price (MSP) of crops is discontinued,” says Randhir Singh, state office secretary of JJP.
Dushyant said that the price of cotton has increased by Rs 1,000 per quintal after the government announced that the entire crop will be purchased at the rate of MSP in Haryana. Last year, sources said, only a portion of the cotton was purchased at the rate of MSP. “Last year, 25 lakh quintal cotton was purchased at MSP in Haryana while this time we are expecting production of 1 lakh quintal which will be procured at MSP,” said Dushyant.
Chairman of board, corporations likely to be appointed soon
Haryana witnessed hectic political activities on Sunday with Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar meeting senior BJP leaders including Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi amid talks of political appointments as chairman of different boards and corporations. There have been some voices of dissent from JJP and BJP over the farm Bills. Sources say there are almost three dozen vacancies where political personalities including MLAs and former MLAs can be appointed. “Such a move will at least pacify some leaders,” says a leader of the alliance.
Birender Singh meets Khattar
Former Union Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh met the Chief Minister on Sunday. Sources said he gave some suggestions on the three Bills. Singh’s son Brijendra Singh, who is BJP Lok Sabha MP from Hisar, had condemned the police lathicharge on protesting farmers at Pipli town of Kurukshetra district on September 10.
Congress protest in Chandigarh today
Opposing the three farm Bills, the Congressmen will stage a march from Haryana Congress office of Sector 9 in Chandigarh to Haryana Raj Bhawan on Monday.
Apart from this, Congressmen will organise functions at Assembly constituency level and district level to observe ‘Save Kisan-Majdoor Day’ on October 2 while a state level farmer conference will be organised on October 10. The Congress has also decided to launch a signature campaign from October 2 to October 31 against the farm Bills.
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