Indian National Lok Dal legislator and senior leader Abhay Singh Chautala has resigned from the Haryana Assembly over the three contentious farm laws that have sparked nationwide protests by farmers.
Haryana Vidhan Sabha speaker Gian Chad Gupta has accepted Chautala’s resignation.
The 57-year-old INLD leader was the party’s lone MLA in the 90-member State Assembly and represented the Ellenabad seat.
Abhay Chautala, who is the younger son of INLD president and former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, drove to the state assembly complex in Chandigarh in a green tractor to submit his resignation. Earlier this month, the legislator had written to the Haryana Assembly speaker, saying if the Centre does not withdraw the three new farm laws by January 26, then his letter may be considered as his resignation as MLA from the House.
In the letter to Gupta, Abhay Chautala had slammed the Centre for imposing the “black laws” on farmers in an “undemocratic way” and said the farming community in the entire country is opposing these legislations. After Abhay Chautala’s resignation, the Haryana Assembly now has 40 MLAs of BJP, 10 of ally JJP, 31 members of main opposition Congress and one MLA of Haryana Lokhit Party.
Seven members are Independents, out of whom five including Power Minister Ranjit Singh Chautala support the ruling combine.
Thousands of farmers, protesting against the reforms that they say benefit big private buyers at the expense of growers, have been camped on the outskirts of Delhi for two months to demand the reforms be scrapped.
A protest parade of tractors around the city’s fringes to coincide with Tuesday’s Republic Day celebrations turned to chaos when some farmers diverged from agreed routes, breaking through barricades and clashing with police, who used tear gas and batons to try to restrain them.
Some farmers carrying ceremonial swords reached as far as the Red Fort, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi gives an annual speech, where they scaled outer walls and hoisted flags.
Agriculture employs about half of India’s population of 1.3 billion, and unrest among an estimated 150 million landowning farmers is one of the biggest tests Modi has faced since coming to power in 2014.
While the protests are beginning to undermine support for Modi in the countryside, he retains a solid majority in parliament and his government has shown no sign of bending to farmers’ demands.
The government says agriculture reform will open up new opportunities for farmers.
Police said they had registered 22 cases against protesters including “rioting, damage to public property and assault on public servants with deadly weapons” in several locations.
Roads across the New Delhi remained closed while extra police, including paramilitary were at protest sites on the outskirts.