New Delhi: Even as 17 farmers’ organisations in Haryana, under the banner of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, on Wednesday continued their indefinite protest near the residence of Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) leader and Haryana deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala in Sirsa to seek his withdrawal from the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government over the issue of the farm bills, the JJP continued to maintain a staunch silence on the subject.
Dushyant, who has tested positive for COVID-19, has still not commented on the protests or the farm bills. Neither has his father, Ajay Chautala, who is also the national president of the JJP.
Government should meet farmers’ leaders, says senior JJP MLA
However, other party leaders have been voicing concerns around the growing protests.
Talking to The Wire, former JJP national vice-president and senior legislator Ram Kumar Gautam, who resigned from the party post that is now held by Dushyant, said, “The Haryana government should immediately convene a meeting with all the farmers unions and other groups to allay their doubts and fears.”
“If we are of the firm opinion that all farmers would be paid the minimum support price for their produce then we should also say so openly to them. Else, the opposition will make use of the situation. It is its job to defame and pull down the government,” added Gautam.
As for the protests by the opposition, he said the government should do its own work and not get too bothered about what others have to say. “In their time, those in the Opposition now did a lot that was anti-farmer and we stood by the farmers then. Even now we should do what is best for the farmers,” said Gautam, a former confidante of Dushyant Chautala who left the party post last year to protest against the centralisation of power in the state government.
Protests continue near Dushyant’s home in Sirsa
Meanwhile, the protest by farmers groups has received support from various political outfits including Swaraj Abhiyan, whose leader Yogendra Yadav during the day came out to show his solidarity with the farmers, who have been terming the three farm laws as “death warrants”.
Yadav, who along with around 100 other protesters was detained while he was sitting on an indefinite protest at Bhuman Shah Chowk, said the farmers want Dushyant and his grand uncle Ranjit Chautala to resign from the Khattar government and withdraw support to it. Stating that they have been asked to choose between staying with the farmers or the government, Yadav cautioned that while “they can enjoy power for four years if they opt for the BJP, but the upcoming generations of farmers will never forgive them for supporting these death warrants.”
Earlier on Tuesday, president of the Sangharsh Samiti Mandeep Singh Nathwan too had cautioned that the protests will continue till the two JJP leaders would resign from the state cabinet. “All 17 farmer outfits are together in this fight,” he had said, adding that the farmers have also decided not to let any leaders of BJP, JJP or other parties enter their villages in the state if they would support these three farm laws.
Congress leaders were among the first to ask Chautala to leave alliance
Tthe pressure on Chautala to leave the BJP-led alliance had started mounting soon after Union minister and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from the Narendra Modi cabinet over its introduction of three farm Bills.
Since JJP, like SAD, is also a party that primarily represents and stands for the interests of farmers, several political parties had started coaxing it into leaving the alliance.
The Congress, which had following the Haryana assembly polls last years (that threw up a hung House) even harboured hopes of allying with the JJP to form a government in the state, was among the first to call out to Dushyant to leave the alliance.
Its spokesperson, Randeep Singh Surjewala had tweeted asking Chautala to follow Kaur’s lead and resign. “You are more attached to your chair than farmers,” he said.
Talk of dissidence fuelling speculation of change
The Congress is also said to be eyeing the protests over the farm Bills as an opportune moment to explore the possibility of bringing down the Khattar government. While BJP has 40 MLAs, it enjoys the backing of seven independents apart from 10 JJP legislators. On the other hand, the Congress with 30 MLAs is hoping that JJP would break the ranks with BJP and move towards it. It believes that in such a scenario, several of the independents would also come out and support it.
Also, the growing murmurs of dissidence within BJP and among JJP legislators are giving Congress the hope of staging a comeback. But as of now, such moves are speculative. Even Gautam and another JJP legislator, Devinder Babli, who have been quite vocal in their opposition of policies of the government, have not stepped out of the party for fear of losing their membership.