The ‘khap mahapanchayat’ in Kandela village of Jind district in Haryana on Wednesday (February 3) has spelt a fresh set of problems for the BJP-Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) alliance in the state. The khaps across Haryana have unanimously decided to boycott BJP-JJP leaders.
The khaps have also decided to pressure the JJP to withdraw its support to the BJP. A JJP pullout can lead to the Khattar government’s fall. In the 2019 assembly polls, the BJP won 40 seats out of 90 and formed the government in post-poll alliance with Dushyant Chautala-led JJP which won 10 seats.
In the face of the agitating farmers’ growing pressure, the JJP is running out of options. Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala has maintained that he will resign if the assured minimum support price (MSP) is withdrawn, but the farmers remain unconvinced.
“We have banned the entry of BJP-JJP leaders in villages. They will face a social boycott. The onus is on JJP which presented themselves as a farmers’ party in the 2019 elections. They need to prove themselves that they really stand by the farmers by withdrawing support, otherwise they would go the way their parent party Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) vanished,” said Tekram Kandela, president of Kandela Khap.
JJP in a lose-lose situation
The JJP was carved out of the INLD in 2018 by Dushyant Chautala. The INLD’s huge cadre of Jat and farmer supporters, especially the youth, soon shifted allegiance to the JJP. The Jats comprise 27 per cent of the Haryana population while the farmers make for 60 per cent of the share of the electorate. The two sections have always been seen as kingmakers in Haryana, and both of them have now boycotted the BJP-JJP alliance.
Political analyst Rohtas Nagura told The Federal that while the BJP is losing some of its support base because of the farmer’s protest, the JJP is set to lose everything if it doesn’t disassociate with the BJP.
“Dushyant used the image of his great grandfather Devi Lal, who is hailed as the tallest farmers’ leader in Haryana to get seats in the 2019 assembly elections. Since the JJP is a new party, its entire political career is at stake now,” Nagura said.
“On the other hand, the Chautala family is mired in several corruption cases, including the one involving Dushyant’s grandfather Om Prakash Chautala and his father Ajay Singh Chautala,” Nagura said. In January 2013, a Delhi court sentenced OP Chautala and his son Ajay Chautala to 10 years’ imprisonment under various provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act for illegally recruiting over 3,000 unqualified teachers.
“But as soon as Dushyant extended his support to the BJP in the 2019 elections, both were given bail, which they continue to enjoy. Dushyant needs to be with BJP to save his family members. The BJP has given a clear hint of what it can do if the JJP tries to withdraw its support following a Delhi court on January 30 framing money laundering charges against OP Chautala in the disproportionate assets case,” Nagura said.
Therefore, for Dushyant, it’s like walking on a razor’s edge: on one hand, his party needs to prove its loyalty to farmers and, on the other, Dushyant needs to save his family members from jail.
On yet another front, seven out of 10 JJP MLAs have extended their support to the protesting farmers. Inderjit Singh Goraya, the JJP’s district president in Karnal, quit the party recently over the contentious farm laws. Senior INLD leader Abhay Chautala seems to have taken a moral high ground over his arch political rival Dushyant Chautala by resigning from the Assembly over the farm laws.
Amarjeet Dhandha, a JJP legislator from Julana, told The Federal that the party supports farmers. “To remain with the BJP or withdraw support is a decision to be taken by the party leadership. We really don’t have a say in that. In alliance politics, such problems happen. However, it goes without saying that JJP supports farmers completely,” said Dhandha.
BJP’s Jat leaders in dilemma
BJP’s former chief parliamentary secretary Rampal Majra, a Jat leader, has quit the party over the agriculture laws in solidarity with the farmers. “I fully stand with the farmers. I believe that these laws are not only anti-farmer but when implemented will adversely impact other sections of the society too”, he told the media.
Senior BJP Jat leader Chaudhary Birender Singh also supports farmers. “Being the grandson of Sir Chhotu Ram, who dedicated his life to farm reforms, I can’t sit idle and see farmers sitting on a dharna for their future,” he said, adding the Centre must meet the farmers’ demands as soon as possible.
Haryana’s Agriculture Minister JP Dalal, a Jat, has already let his displeasure be known at the new farm laws, saying these laws don’t have any mechanism to control the prices.
Another senior Jat legislator from BJP in Haryana told The Federal, that he felt helpless now. “The government is adamant on its stance and farmers on theirs. We can’t leave the government or the farmers. We want farmers and the government to resume talks and come to a solution as soon as possible,” he said.
Nagura said, “The khaps, Jats and farmers have decided to not vote the BJP-JJP alliance in the 2024 elections. As of now the question is about JJP – whether it would withdraw its support and force re-elections in the state.”