With the increasing number of Khap panchayats in Haryana lending their support to the ongoing agitation of farmers, the Dushyant Chautala-led Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) is feeling the heat as the Jat community is calling for the withdrawal of support to the BJP-led M L Khattar’s government. The farmers’ union leaders have been organising mahapanchayats across the State to garner support for the agitation. The latest one was on Sunday at Charkhi Dadri, where a call was given to intensify the agitation in Haryana.
The JJP draws its support from the Jat vote bank and its success in the last year’s elections was attributed to Dushyant Chautala's close connection with the community. But several meetings of Khap panchayats being held across the State are giving the leadership some anxious moments. “There numbers are big and since JJPs core voters are from the Jats, it’s understandable that Dushyant Chautala is feeling the pressure,” said a leader.
What has made it even worse for Chautala is the resignation of his uncle and lone INLD legislator Abhay Chautala about a fortnight back in support of the farmers. “Those who put up Chaudhary Devi Lal’s pictures, if they do not resign at this time, they are a blot on Chaudhary Devi Lal’s image,” Abhay said, while daring his nephew to walk out of the coalition with the BJP.
Even a few independent MLAs have earlier withdrawn their support for the BJP over the agitation. Though the coalition government still has the numbers, the increasing groundswell of support for the agitation against the farm laws was giving jitters to the ruling alliance. Khap panchayats have been holding frequent meetings ever since the agitation focus has shifted from Singhu and Tikri borders to Ghazipur.
Some members of the JJP seem to be crumbling under pressure and are giving up their positions in the party to extend their support to the agitating farmers. Dushyant Chautala has remained unfazed so far maintaining that he would quit only if the Centre ‘touches’ the minimum support price (MSP) in the State. “The day the Central government goes back on its word of tinkering with the MSP we will withdraw support and walk out of the government,” Dushyant Chautala told his party members at a recent meeting.
Haryana is the only state in the country that offers the MSP on 23 crops including paddy, wheat, sorghum, millet, maize, moong, groundnut and soybean.
Though Chautala has been assured of MSP not going to be affected, some of his party leaders are not too convinced about these assurances and they claim that the “bait” was just a way to keep the government in the State afloat.
With Rakesh Tikait, a prominent Jat leader, who is now one of the central characters spearheading the agitation, the pressure is now on the community and its leaders to show a united front and back the farmers. It remains to be seen on how Chautala and his party would continue to resist the pressure.