After Harsimrat Quits, Pressure Mounts on BJP's Haryana Ally Dushyant Chautala

The Congress has asked the Haryana deputy chief minister to resign in protest against the three farm Bills tabled by the Centre in Lok Sabha.

New Delhi: After Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from the Narendra Modi cabinet over its introduction of three farm Bills, pressure mounted from the opposition on the BJP’s ally in Haryana Jannayak Janata Party and its leader Dushyant Singh Chautala to quit as the deputy chief minister.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted asking Chautala to follow Kaur’s lead and resign. “You are more attached to your chair than farmers,” he claimed

While Chautala’s own party MLAs have been opposing his leadership, it is noteworthy that he has not publicly opposed the farm ordinances passed in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

JJP MLAs Ram Kumar Gautam and Devender Babli expressed dissatisfaction against Chautala’s leadership, claiming that “there was dissatisfaction among most of the party’s 10 MLAs”, according to an Indian Express report. Under the BJP-JJP alliance, the latter has 10 MLAs in the 90-member assembly.

Earlier today, NDTV reported that Chautala met with chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and later went into a huddle with his party’s top leadership.

Harsimrat Kaur’s move is seen as a strong stance taken by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) the BJP’s oldest ally in the National Democratic Alliance – over the three farm ordinances which have now been tabled as Bills in the Lok Sabha. “We were upset to see the Bill was presented without consulting the farmers, and this wasn’t acceptable to me,” said Kaur. 

President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday accepted Kaur’s resignation and Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar was assigned additional charge of her ministry.

However, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh dubbed her resignation as “theatrics”, saying it is “too late, too little”.

“Harsimrat Kaur’s decision to quit the Union Cabinet is another in the long chain of theatrics being enacted by SAD which has still not quit the ruling coalition. It’s motivated not by any concern for farmers but to save their own dwindling political fortunes. Too little too late,” Singh tweeted.

He added that if the SAD had taken a stand earlier against the ordinances and supported him, the Centre might have thought “ten times” before introducing the ordinances and pushing the “anti-farmer legislations” in parliament. He said the party changed its stance on the ordinances following the pressure mounted by the state’s farmer organisations, which have been protesting for months against the anti-farmer ordinances brought in by the Central government.

Before the ordinances reached the Lok Sabha’s table, farmers in Haryana had been vehemently opposing the changes, alleging that in the name of reforms, the government is planning to discontinue the minimum support price (MSP) regime. Earlier this week, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal met with Chautala and his father Ajay Singh Chautala in Delhi to plan a strategy on the farm Bills.

Both the JJP and SAD have their main support base among farmers and also share close family ties.

The JJP has been supporting the Central ordinances and also hit out at the Congress for “politicising” the issue by “misleading” the farmers.