While Haryana Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala continues to stand by the BJP in defending the three contentious farm legislations, his own party MLAs do not seem to be on the same page with him.
As the standoff between the Union government and various farmer unions continues, discussions on withdrawing support from the BJP in Haryana have started taking place within the Dushyant-led JJP.
In the 2019 Assembly polls, when BJP fell short of majority by six seats in the 90-member House, it entered into a post-poll alliance with JJP, which had 10 MLAs. In return for enabling the BJP to form the government, Dushyant had bagged the post of Deputy CM. Both the parties have recently announced that their “alliance is rock-solid” and they will also contest the upcoming municipal body elections in Haryana together.
Several MLAs told The Indian Express that Dushyant, on December 8, had had a discussion with JJP MLAs and took feedback on the “sentiment of farmers, labourers and people of their constituencies and entire state” on the current scenario since farmer and labourers form “JJP’s major vote bank”.
JJP MLAs told The Indian Express that they have discussed the issue of “withdrawing support from BJP in Haryana”, if the farmers continue to believe that they were being “exploited by the Union government” and the standoff does not end, “soon”.
“Koi aisi naubat na aaye, ke sarkaar itna jaada kheenche…lekin isme hum toh prathmikta kisan ki baat ko pehle se bhi de rahe hain, aaj bhi de rahe hain aur aage bhi denge. Kisanon ne, hamaare Haryana pradesh ke voters ne yahan bheja hai hamein. Aaj hum sehyogi ke roop mein kaam kar rahe hain, kal ko yeh thode na hai ke agar kisi ka shoshan hota hai toh aankh moond ke dekhte rahenge isko (We have been giving preference to what the farmers have been saying since the beginning and will continue to do so. Today, we are supporting this alliance, but this does not mean that we will be mute spectators if we see someone being exploited),” JJP MLA from Tohana, Devender Babli, told The Indian Express.
Babli added that he had met Dushyant on December 8 at the airport (not specified which one) and held nearly a 90-minute discussion on this aspect. Follow Farmers Protest LIVE Updates
“The meeting took place for this only to review the ongoing situation in wake of farmers’ agitation. Our party is primarily of farmers and labourers. JJP has majority of this vote bank today. This pressure (of withdrawing support) is on every MLA, on us too and on Dushyant ji too. We held talks on this only and discussed that this ongoing standoff should be sorted out at the earliest,” Babli told The Indian Express.
He further added, “God forbid, if farmers believe that they are being neglected, we will even go and sit with them on the roads if such a time comes. If Union government fails to convince farmers, we stand by farmers’ side. We have appealed to Union government, Prime Minister, Home Minister, party’s president, Chief Minister too and our party president too. It is not the problem of only JJP, but MLAs of all the political parties. It should be sorted out at the earliest”.
However, on farmers and opposition’s persistent attack on JJP and its MLAs to resign from their posts and support farmers’ movement, Babli said, “If we are part of the government, then only we can raise their issues. Otherwise, we would also be sitting with them (farmers) on the roads. Since people have made us capable of occupying these chairs and we can work in their welfare, that’s how we are relentlessly doing it. Today, if we are part of the government, that’s why the government is listening to us. That’s why our words have a weightage. We are strongly raising farmers demands with the Union government.”
Babli added that Dushyant Chautala was also in constant touch with central government leaders and pressure is being exerted on BJP to sort out the standoff at the earliest.
JJP’s another MLA from Barwala, Jogi Ram Sihag, however, told The Indian Express that “no discussion about the ongoing farmers agitation has been held with the elected MLAs at the party level” adding that he was “not aware” about his party’s stand on the issue.
“I don’t know about the party’s stand, but I have mine. These three farm legislations will not only damage farmers, but common man too of the entire country too. I can’t say anything about party’s stand. Only Dushyant ji will talk about it. It is not even my power that I make him speak since he is a taller leader than me. Unless these three legislations are repealed or suitable amendments are made, farmer will not survive. Even country will not be able to survive”, Sihag said.
About the discussions within JJP, on the ongoing farmers’ agitation, Sihag added, “No, there hasn’t been any discussion with us at the party level on this”, adding that he was not aware how the decisions were taken in his party.
He added, “This party was constituted during (2019) elections. We are 10 legislators. If we leave this mother, son duo and another one Anoop Dhanak, rest all seven of us have come from here and there. There is not much attraction with the party. That’s why none of the seven has any problem. It is right that he (Dushyant) does his own politics, we do ours. We had to become MLA, we wanted the ticket, we got it. Reality is that we got our votes, votes due to the party too and we became MLA. That is why we speak individually. Although, it does not happen in a party and it should not be happening. We are party MLAs, we are party’s office bearers. A party has its system, guidelines that what all should be spoken. It is not the case with us. We speak, whatever we think is right. No meeting has been held with us at the party level, so far.”
In October, Sihag had also refused to accept the post of Housing Board chairman showing his solidarity with farmers.
Responding to a query that what was the party doing to curtail the mounting anger of farmers towards JJP, JJP’s another MLA from Hathin, Harsh Kumar said that JJP was “exerting pressure on BJP” to sort out the ongoing standoff. “Dushyant ji is making efforts. Farmers are making efforts from outside through their movement, our party is making efforts from inside. Whatever pressure we can exert, we are exerting on them [BJP] to sort it out. We are in touch with BJP leaders asking them to sort it out. It has been too many days for farmers. We are also asking the Centre to sort it out. After all, till when the farmer will keep protesting.”
About JJP’s stand, Harsh said, “Party’s stand can only be told by Dushyant ji or Ajay Chautala ji.”
On party-level discussions, Harsh added, “Farmers have demands. Whatever they are demanding should be accepted. If you want my welfare, then do whatever I am saying. I will bear the consequences. If I have a wrong thought, I will bear the consequences. Due to this ongoing bandh, party has also not been able to call a meeting. Discussions are although held, but we are tied up with party’s discipline. BJP is a bigger party in the alliance, we are a smaller party.”
JJP’s another MLA from Julana, Amarjeet Dhanda, said, “Our party is of farmers, our annadata. Union government has agreed on giving MSP in writing, improvements in Mandi system. We have held discussions with Dushyant ji that our party is farmers party. We always stand by the farmers.”
Giving hints that fissures within JJP too are getting wider, Ram Kumar Gautam, MLA from Narnaund, faulted the anti-defection law for MLAs not being able to put their point across forcefully.
“Bas isi liye log ye sochte hain ke teri memberi na chali jaye. Aur memberi jaye toh kisi baat pe jaye. Aisi stage abhi aayi nahi. Aisi stage kabhi aaye toh koi baat nahi bhai memberi bhi chali jaye toh bhi koi baat nahi.”
Calling anti-defection a horrendous law, he added: “Anti-defection law bahut ganda kanoon hai. Desh ki azaadi ke liye, desh ki democracy ke liye bhi galat hai ye. Modi Sahab ne jis tarah se 370 dhaara todi hai na, bahut bhala kaam kiya, mandir ka nirmaan kiya , bahut badhiya kaam kiya….Isi tarah se ye jo anti-defection kanoon ban reha hai, Modi ji ko isko todna chahiye sabse pehle. Isi kanoon ne ghulam bana rakha hai. Agar ye kanoon na ho, toh badhiya raaj chale saare.”
Gautam said, “Although Union government says these are good legislations, but people on whom these are applicable are not accepting it. Then what is the hurry of implementing it. As such this country has a system where governments do not even accept Supreme Court’s verdicts, if it does not suit them. Punjab is not agreeing to give SYL water.”