CHANDIGARH: Trouble seems to be brewing within the BJP’s main coalition partner Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) in Haryana with two more out of its 10 legislators coming out openly to support the protesting farmers against new farm laws they say will destroy livelihoods.
The legislators who posed a challenge to the just one-year-old post-election alliance government are Ram Kumar Gautam, the JJP’s senior-most rebel, and Amarjeet Dhanda.
Both have asked the Centre to withdraw the newly introduced laws. They have joined their fellow party legislator Jogiram Sihag who last month turned down the government’s offer to be the Housing Board Chairman till the farm laws guarantee the MSP.
“The farmers are producing foodgrains to feed the people and their children are protecting the country’s borders. The political leaders who are making inappropriate comments about the farmers should be restrained,” Gautam told the media.
He urged all political parties in the state to unanimously adopt a resolution, asking the Central government to accept the demands of the farmers.
Gautam, 73, defeated BJP’s sitting Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu from the Narnaud constituency in Hisar district with a margin of 12,029 votes.
His outburst against the JJP leadership is not new.
Earlier, upset with functioning of the government, Gautam said the alliance was sealed in a mall secretly, indirectly hinting that except Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, no legislator was aware about the development.
First-timer legislator Dhanda, 36, won the Julana seat by defeating the ruling BJP’s sitting legislator Parminder Singh Dhull by a margin of 24,193 votes.
“I am a son of a farmer and support their cause,” Dhanda told the media.
“We hope the (central) government will accept the demands of the farmers as they are ‘annadata’ (provider of food),” he said, adding “This is the winter season and I will appeal to the Centre to listen to the farmers and accept their demands through talks as thousands of farmers from Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and other states have been sitting on borders of Delhi.”
In a post-electoral alliance, the JJP had extended support to the BJP, which won 40 seats, six short of the majority mark.
Political observers believe the political ‘wedge’ between the BJP and JJP is widening with the talks between the Centre and the protesting farmers remaining inconclusive despite five rounds of negotiations.
The latest issue of ‘irritant’ in the government led by BJP leader Manohar Lal Khattar is the registration of hundreds of cases against the farmers for violence, breach of barricades and causing disruption in discharge of duty by government employees.
Deputy Chief Minister Chautala has been maintaining stoic silence in public over the issue, but his firebrand younger brother Digvijay Chautala is taking the government to task almost daily.
Two days ago, Digvijay Chautala demanded that the cases against farmers must be withdrawn.
Without mincing words, he had added: “To protest peacefully is the fundamental right of the farmers.
Digvijay Chautala, who heads the youth wing of the JJP, had said senior party leaders have been waiting for the outcome of the meeting of farmers with the government.
The JJP is primarily a rural Jat-centric party with the farmers as its core vote bank. The Jat, a dominant farming community, comprises 28 per cent of state’s population.
Coming out openly for the first time with the protesting farmers, JJP President and former MP, Ajay Singh Chautala, who is out of Delhi’s Tihar jail because of the coronavirus pandemic, said on December 2 the Centre should give, in writing, an assurance on the MSP to the protesting farmers that largely comprises those from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
“When Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Agriculture Minister are repeatedly saying the MSP will continue, what is the harm in adding that line,” Ajay Chautala had told the media.
Also, believe political observers, the JJP is facing an ‘internal rumblings’ as its leaders have been saying if BJP’s Punjab ally Akali Dal could reject the lure of office and stand up for its principles to “to save the beleaguered peasantry”, then why not the JJP.
Ahead of Ajay Chautala’s assertions, his party’s legislator Sihag raised a banner of revolt against his party by turning down the post of Haryana Housing Board chairperson last month, saying he will not accept any office of profit till the farm laws guarantee the MSP.
Independent legislator Sombir Sangwan has already withdrawn his support to the state government owing to the farmers’ agitation.