Chandigarh: After thousands of farmers gathered for a mahapanchayat in Haryana’s Jind Wednesday in support of the farmers’ protests, the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), BJP’s alliance partner in the state, is under pressure to quit the government.
A rural Jat-centric party, the JJP is fast running out of reasons to stay in power with the BJP, especially with the focus of the farmers’ agitation shifting from Punjab to Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, and Jats playing a pivotal role in the agitation.
This shift occurred primarily due to Rakesh Tikait, a Jat farm leader from Uttar Pradesh, who successfully revived the agitation after the violence that occurred on 26 January in New Delhi. The sarvjatiya (all-caste) mahapanchayat in Jind, the first in the state on the farmers’ agitation, was also the only one that Tikait has attended so far.
It was called by the Kandela village khap, which is the most prominent in the state, and elicited a massive response from farmers across the state.
Tikait along with Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) and Gurnaam Singh Chaduni, president of BKU (Haryana) — who are also part of the seven-member working group of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha leading the agitation — addressed the event.
Five resolutions were passed in this event, including the demand to repeal the three farm laws, obtaining legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP) and the immediate release of farmers arrested for the violence that occurred on 26 January.
While the mahapanchayat extending support to the farmers’ agitation will worry the BJP, it is the JJP that stands to lose the most, since Jat farmers make up a sizable portion of their vote bank.
The JJP was created from the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in 2018 by Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala. The INLD’s huge cadre of Jat supporters, especially the youth, soon shifted allegiances to the JJP.
While Chautala’s party has faced criticism for staying with the BJP-led government, since December last year, the overwhelming support to the agitation by Jat farmers is likely to increase the pressure.
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Dushyant Chautala remains steady with govt
At least six of the 10 JJP MLAs in the Haryana Assembly have already voiced their support for the farmers’ agitation, with two of them taking a clear stand against Chautala. Inderjit Singh Goraya, the JJP’s district president in Karnal, even quit the party recently over the contentious farm laws.
However, despite this, Chautala has given no indication that he will resign from the government. Instead, his stand has remained consistent since day one that he will resign if farmer’s produce is not procured on minimum support price (MSP).
MSP is one of the central issues of the agitation. The farmers want the government to continue paying them an MSP and procuring all of their rice and wheat produce.
Meanwhile, JJP chief Ajay Chautala has also been lukewarm in his response to the farmers’ crisis, noting that he was hopeful that “something positive” would come from the ongoing meeting between farmers and the central government.
According to Devender Singh Babli, a JJP MLA from Tohana city, the farmers issue has intensified in the past few days but will also be resolved soon.
“Dushyant Chautala met the prime minister and the home minister over this issue and he has played a major role in resolving the matter. Within a week, there will be a solution to the whole thing. I’m fully supporting the JJP in this,” Babli told ThePrint.
However, Amarjeet Dhanda, JJP MLA from the town Julana, noted that some khaps were planning to boycott their party on the insistence of the Congress.
“In my constituency there is no village which has boycotted me. Regarding what the party needs to do next is for Dushyant Chautala to decide,” he said.
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Khaps boycott BJP and JJP leaders
The recent resignation of Abhay Chautala, the lone INLD MLA in the Haryana Assembly, has also increased the pressure on the JJP.
Furthermore, individual villages have resolved to support the agitation with many announcing a complete ban on BJP and JJP leaders from entering the village.
After Rakesh Tikait’s video, where he could be seen crying in despair over the government’s crackdown on farmers, went viral last week, the Kandela khap was the first to respond and immediately sent a contingent of tractors to Ghazipur border. The Jind-Panipat highway was blocked the same night.
After the video, several khaps in Haryana expressed their solidarity with the farmers and decided to boycott BJP and JJP leaders.
On Friday, the Raakhi Barah khap and the Dahadan khap met in Jind and resolved to support the farmers. At Bhiwani, the Phogat khap decided to boycott Dushyant Chautala and Dharambir Singh, the BJP MP from Bhiwani.
The Bangad and Dharana khaps met Saturday to announce their boycott of the ruling government’s leaders as well.
Seventeen khaps joined hands Monday and demanded the resumption of internet services at the protest sites on the Delhi borders.
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Lo and behold. Ab approval farmers protest becomes a full blown political war game.
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