April 30, 2015 3:29:17 am
Having led farmer agitations in the past several years as president of the BJP’s All India Kisan Morcha, Haryana Agriculture Minister O P Dhankar has stirred a hornet’s nest after he termed the farmers who commit suicide as cowards and criminals.
Dhankar is, however, not new to controversy. His controversial remarks pertaining to the problem of low sex ratio in Haryana had earlier created a stir. In 2014, Dhankar had stated that the BJP would get brides from Bihar to ensure that the men in Haryana can get married. The statement was condemned by several sections of society including women activists and politicians from Bihar. While it was later stated that his statement had been twisted, the damage had been done.
The first in his family to join politics, Dhankar was born in Dhakla village in Jhajjar district in 1961. Dhankar was a regular at RSS shakhas since 1978. From 1981 to 1996 he was a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) where he held several positions.
During his tenure the organisation handed him the task of conducting a study on the problems in the education system in the country and how it could be improved. He later joined the BJP and was a lecturer of Geography who taught Class XII students.
In his career spanning three decades, he has held several positions in BJP including state general secretary and state president. This is the first time that he has won an election. Earlier, he contested the Assembly elections in 2009 and lost. He also suffered defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections at the hands of Deepinder Hooda, son of former Chief Minister B S Hooda. He won the Assembly elections held later that year from Badli constituency.
In fact, when questioned on why Swaminathan Commission report, of which he was such a proponent as a farmer, was not being implemented, Dhankar is known to say that people elected him as an MLA and not the MP. He can now only take the issues of the people to the Centre and lobby for their implementation but can’t do anything on his own as an MLA.
At present, apart from the Agriculture Ministry, Dhankar is holding charge of four other ministries. These include Animal Husbandry and Dairy, Fisheries, Development and Panchayats as well as Irrigation. He is considered the fourth most influential minister in the Cabinet.
Dhankar was entrusted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi the task of collecting soil and iron tools from across the country for his flagship project – the Statue of Unity. Dhankar was appointed the national coordinator of the Iron Collection Corporation Committee. He worked closely with Modi when the latter was incharge of the Haryana unit of BJP. Dhankar was at that time the general secretary of the unit.
Dhankar was elected the national president of BJP Kisan Morcha for two tenures from 2011-13 and 2013-15. He has been working actively on farmer issues for the past one decade. He is also credited with playing a major role in bringing out a Land Acquisition handbook that addressed all kinds of farmer as well as industry issues. He is also a proponent of crop diversification and promoting marketing of crops.
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