Chautala is running out of time on withdrawing support from Khattar govt

JJP leaders, most of whom are farmers, feel this delay will cost them their political future.
The Haryana government is sensing the tremors from the ongoing farmers’ agitation. Though the differences in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) and Jannayak Janta Party (BJP-JJP) alliance have not spilt out into the public yet, concerns are rising in the JJP, with several leaders saying if the party doesn’t act soon, it may alienate farmers.

Over the past few days, several senior JJP leaders have spoken out in favour of farmers. According to them, more than half its 10 MLAs are against the party’s decision of supporting BJP on the farm laws. “Police atrocities on farmers were barbaric. Is this why they voted us to power? We are waiting for the party leadership’s decision. But if Dushyant Chautala doesn't act quickly, he will lose a lot of ground,” said a JJP MLA.

Sensing the seriousness of the situation, JJP National President Ajay Chautala had demanded the Centre give an assurance to farmers on procurement of crops at or above the minimum support price. “When PM Narendra Modi and the Union agriculture minister are repeatedly assuring that MSP will continue, there is no harm in giving that in writing.”

But it is Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala’s silence that is making the party restive. JJP leaders, most of whom are farmers, feel this delay will cost them their political future. “Who will vote for us next time? We came to power championing farmer’s cause, but now we are facing criticism from everyone,” said a JJP leader.

Four JJP MLAs — Jogi Ram Sihag (Barwala), Ram Karan Kala (Shahabad), Ram Kumar Gautam (Narnaund), and Devender Babli (Tohana) — have already broken the party line, supporting farmers and calling the government’s action unjust.

The Congress, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), and Independent Jat MLAs like Sombir Sangwan (Dadri) and Balraj Kundu (Meham) are leaving no stone unturned to criticise the state government. This is also a ploy to win over the core farmer vote base of the JJP. Sangwan’s resignation from the Haryana Livestock Board and withdrawal of support from the Manohar Lal Khattar government has created more pressure on Dushyant to resign.

Vijay Chauhan, assistant professor and head of the Department of Political Science, Maharana Pratap National College, Mullana, said farmer unions are continuously demanding Dushyant withdraw support from the Khattar government. He is pretending he hasn’t heard. “By not listening to farmers and khap panchayats, the government is digging its own grave.” 

However, BJP sources cite Dushyant’s lack of options and benefits of political power as an advantage for the BJP. The BJP has managed to keep its own house in order, except for Shyam Singh Rana, former MLA and chief parliamentary secretary in the first term of the Khattar government, who quit the party in September on farmers’ issue.

JJP leader Digvijay Chautala, Dushyant’s younger brother, while speaking in favour of protesters, had said to protest peacefully is the fundamental right of farmers and demanded the withdrawal of cases registered in Haryana against them. “We will talk to the chief minister and the home minister and tell them to withdraw cases against farmers,” he said.

But the cases filed against the protesting farmers in Haryana, Khattar calling farmers Khalistani elements and “agents”, and the Haryana agriculture minister alleging the protests were “China’s and Pakistan’s efforts to destabilise India”' have only riled farmers further, making it harder for Dushyant to offer conciliation. People are reminding that in 2017, when he was an INLD MP, Dushyant reached Parliament riding a tractor — that’s how much he identified himself with farmers.

In 2018, when he launched his new party using the honorific of his great grandfather, ‘Tau been alive, he would have died of shame,” said Sandeep Singh, a farmer, who is sitting at the Singhu border for the past seven days.

INLD leader and Devi Lal’s grandson Abhay Singh Chautala told Tau’s ideology.”

Anita Aggarwal, state supervisor, Lokniti, and assistant professor department of political science at Dyal Singh College, Karnal, said with this agitation the JJP’s identity as “Kisan Kamere ki party (farmer’s party)” has come to an end. “The core vote bank of the JJP is considering his silence on the farmers’ issue a betrayal of their trust, which puts a question mark on his politics in Haryana,” Aggarwal added.

Twitter: @nitinaayog

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