In Haryana, JJP under strain from protesting farmers

The BJP’s ruling alliance partner could ‘face farmers’ anguish and backlash’, feels a section within the party.

Even as Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal and Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala have asserted that there was no threat to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) coalition government, a section of JJP legislators continue to take their party to task by cautioning it on facing farmers’ anguish and backlash in the backdrop of the JJP’s support to Centre’s new farm laws.

Some political observers are of the view that while there’s no imminent threat to the stability of the coalition government, if the farmers’ agitation continues for long, it could result in cracks developing within the JJP. “If the ongoing agitation continues for a long period and the pressure on JJP MLAs from farmers mounts, then one or two MLAs could rebel,” said Vijay Chauhan, Assistant Professor and Head of the Department of Political Science, Maharana Pratap National College, Mullanahe.

In Haryana, the BJP and JJP head a coalition government, with the BJP having 40 members and the JJP having 10 members in the 90-member State Assembly.

In Haryana, leaders of the BJP and the JJP have been facing protests by anguished farmers on the farm laws. On January 10, a group of people protesting the farm laws ransacked a venue at Kaimla village in Karnal, where Mr. Lal was scheduled to address a farmers’ gathering. Last month, a group of farmers dug up a makeshift helipad in Jind’s Karsindhu village ahead of a scheduled visit by Mr. Chautala, and demanded his resignation. Amid the ongoing protests Mr. Lal and Mr. Chautala on January 12 met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi. On January 13, Mr. Chautala even met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and deliberated on issues related to the farmers’ protest.

JJP MLA Ram Kumar Gautam, who has been vocal in his support of the farmers’ cause on January 13 told The Hindu that “if the three farm laws were not repealed then its consequences would not be good”. “When the farmer does not want these laws, then what’s the necessity for implementing them? The government should immediately repeal the laws and then engage farmers in talks. All those who are supporting the laws will suffer immense loss,” said Mr. Gautam.

Mr. Gautam said the JJP is a one-man party and is being run by one family. “No one is realising that it would be difficult to cover up the loss arising due to farmers’ anguish. The anti-defection law has made MLAs bonded labourers. We are handicapped. The way the Chief Minister’s event was cancelled in Karnal — it’s an eye-opener,” said Mr. Gautam.

Another JJP MLA, Jogi Ram Sihag, has also been vocal in his support to farmers and has been demanding repealing of the farm laws.

Professor Chauhan said, “In the last few days, several senior JJP leaders have spoken in favour of the farmers and indicated that the party may change its opinion. But the number of these MLAs has been two or three. It is not easy for any JJP MLA to rebel from party as a two-third majority of MLAs needed to save themselves from the anti-defection law. Moreover, there has been no strong statement from Dushyant Chautala that he wants to break the alliance with the BJP. Dushyant’s stand on farmers’ laws is like ‘two steps forward and one step back’,” he said.

JJP’s Haryana State president Nishan Singh said that Mr. Chautala mainly deliberated on the farmers’ protest, among other issues, in his meeting with the Union Minister. “Mr. Chautala expressed his concern over the issue of the farm laws and conveyed that the issue was serious and it should be addressed seriously. Public sentiments should be taken into account while resolving the issue,” Mr. Singh told The Hindu.

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