After Harsimrat's resignation, now Dushyant Chautala faces heat, meets Khattar
The resignation of Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, a member of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), over farm laws has now sparked tensions in Haryana, another state governed by BJP. In the state, JJP's Dushyant Chautala is facing ire, with a call for his resignation growing louder. Chautala, the Deputy Chief Minister, met CM Manohar Lal Khattar, today to discuss pressing matters. Here's what happened.
At the center of the latest political row are three Bills — the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill; the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill. Two of them have been passed in Lok Sabha. The government believes these Bills will help marginal and small farmers, but critics disagree.
Farmers, primarily from Punjab and Haryana, said these Bills will remove Minimum Support Prices (MSP) and threaten livelihoods. For days now, they have been staging protests, asking the NDA-led Centre to roll back the ordinances. While the opposition's critique wasn't unexpected, the rebellion of Akalis, a long-time ally of BJP, piqued the interests of political observers. After failing to get herself heard, Harsimrat resigned.
Like SAD, JJP also has a strong rural base and is being pressurized to rethink its alliance with BJP. To recall, after BJP failed to get a clear majority in the 90-member strong Haryana Assembly, both parties had entered into an alliance to reinstate Khattar in the top post. JJP hasn't been averse to the Bills till now, but the protests increased its woes.
On September 10, after farmers were rained with lathis at a protest in Kurukshetra, Chautala condemned the incident, only to miff state Home Minister Anil Vij who denied using force on farmers. Thereafter, Chautala released a statement. "JJP was always with the farmers...and interests of the farmers are always supreme for the party," he said, clearly trying to not upset them.
Unfortunately for Chautala, he is not only facing farmers' ire but also losing ground among his own party. Two JJP MLAs Ram Kumar Gautam and Devender Babli went public against Chautala, going as far as demanding a change in the party's leadership. Reports said both were eyeing cabinet berths. Babli told IE it was unfair that Chautala kept all departments to himself.
Notably, the Akalis, who played a key role in forging the post-poll alliance of BJP and JJP, had also called on the latter to support their cause. Party President Sukhbir Singh Badal missed Lok Sabha on Monday and met Chautala instead. Interestingly, when he opposed the Bill, Badal had also referred to Chautala's great-grandfather Devi Lal as a great farm leader.
After Harsimrat's resignation, Congress put out a tweet asking Chautala to step down. "Dushyant ji, following Harsimrat Kaur Badal you should have resigned at least from the Deputy CM post. You are more attached to your chair than farmers, (sic)" wrote Congress' Randeep Singh Surjewala. Soon after meeting Khattar today, Chautala reportedly held talks with his party members to decide on next steps.