The villages of Haryana are divided by culture, castes and the type of crops they grow. The protest against farm laws, however, has united them all against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Jannayak Janta Party (JJP). A poster pasted on a village entrance says it all: “If you are from BJP-JJP, kindly go back. You are not allowed to enter the village.”
The boycott, seen across the state, is also impacting the BJP’s efforts to reach out to the villagers with its side of the story (on new farm laws). For instance, BJP workers — who went to hold a training camp in Gatauli village of Jind district — were sent back by the villagers. The BJP workers were keen to tell the benefits of farm laws, but the villagers raised anti-government slogans and told them to return.
Satyawan Singh, sarpanch of Gatauli village, said that they don’t want to see BJP-JJP workers in the village. “We did not harm any BJP worker. We silently requested them to go as everyone in the village is angry with the BJP. The government brought the new laws without our knowledge or consent and now it is trying to show farmers in a bad light. How can we allow them in our village?”
Reacting to the incident, BJP Jind district president Rajkumar Mor said, “The party workers had gone to the village to hold a training camp which was notified by the Central government as well, but some miscreants disrupted the programme after which we had to cancel it. Such a protest where the farmers don’t want to listen to others is one-sided and undemocratic.”
BJP workers were sent back from villages in parts of Kurukshetra and Karnal as well. Farmers showed black flags to Karnal MP Sanjay Bhatia’s son Chand Bhatia in Assandh village. A few days back, hundreds of farmers showed black flags to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar while he was on way to Ambala.
Farmers of Haryana have now intensified their protest. They are installing hoardings calling for the boycott of BJP and JJP leaders. Over 130 khap panchayats and nearly 6,000 panchayats in Haryana have boycotted leaders of the two parties. Balwan Palwan, a khap leader, earlier told The Federal, “We will not talk to them and won’t welcome them to our panchayats. We will show them black flags and the village will not help such people with anything.”
Residents of Julana village in Jind district sat on a hunger strike in front of the home of legislator Amarjeet Dhanda, who hails from JJP. Arun Malik, a villager, said, “We will sit here on a protest and hunger strike till the laws are not taken back. We don’t want the state government to continue now. The panchayat unions in the state have decided that every village in Haryana will protest in front of the houses of BJP-JJP leaders,” adding, “We will ensure JJP withdraws support to BJP.”
Amarjeet Dhanda was not available for comments. He had earlier told ‘The Federal’ that he is in complete support of farmers. “The Union government must put MSP guarantee in the Act. I am a farmer and I support their cause.”
Sensing backlash, BJP legislators in Haryana have started coming in support of farmers. Senior BJP leader Chaudhary Birender Singh told the media, “Being the grandson of Sir Chhotu Ram, who lived his life for farm reforms, I can’t sit idle and see farmers sitting on a dharna. The Union government must meet the demands of farmers at the earliest.”
Agriculture Minister of Haryana JP Dalal also admitted that there are some flaws in the laws. As the prices of cauliflower and potato in Haryana have crashed three times, Dalal admitted that the new farm bills don’t have any mechanism to control prices as they can dip further. However, Dalal toed the BJP line that the farm laws will benefit farmers in the long run.
Randhir Singh, sarpanch of Alewa village in Jind, said, “It is now not about farm laws only. We have trusted the coalition and have given chances to them a lot of times and every time they failed us. Khattar (the CM) doesn’t know anything about farmers and Dushyant (deputy CM) is a cheater. We don’t want them to remain in power in Haryana.”
Over 130 khap panchayats and nearly 6,000 panchayats in Haryana have boycotted Dushyant Singh Chautala’s Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) and Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP). Jagbir Malik, spokesperson for khaps in Haryana said that they are also boycotting the BJP-JJP combine entirely. “The Centre and state of Haryana have disregarded and disrespected the farmers. How can we let them enter our villages now?”
Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala said the new farm laws need several amendments and urged protesting farmers to give ‘concrete suggestions’. The JJP leader reiterated that he will tender his resignation the day he feels he is unable to ensure minimum support price (MSP) to farmers in Haryana, reported PTI. Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh, Chautala said, “I believe amendments (to the laws) are required. On this, we have given many suggestions to the Centre earlier and they too had accepted most of them.”