Dushyant can't afford to lose the support of farmers to stay relevant in Haryana politics, and that is what is troubling his MLAs as the standoff between farmers and the central government continues in Delhi.
Dushyant Chautala’s JJP is increasingly coming across as a divided house, courtesy Farm Acts and the subsequent deadlock between farmers and Centre in Delhi. While Dushyant Chautala has so far backed the Centre, he and his MLAs are under tremendous pressure to withdraw support from the government and back farmers fighting for repeal of three farm laws brought by the Centre. Dushyant’s JJP has 10 MLAs and is a junior partner in the BJP government led by Manohar Lal Khattar.
Dushyant, grandson of Om Prakash Chautala and great grandson of Chaudhary Devi Lal – both farmer leaders in Haryana – has a majority of his core voters from the farmer community. He can’t afford to lose the support of farmers to stay relevant in Haryana politics, and that is what is troubling his MLAs as the standoff between farmers and the central government continues in Delhi.
The JJP MLAs are under massive pressure from their constituents to pull back support but the authority to take any such decision lies with Dushyant, who appears to be convinced with the Centre’s assurance that the minimum support price (MSP) will continue. In fact, he has said that he would be first to resign if he fails to ensure MSP for farmers in Haryana. But, he has also stated that if Centre is ready to give written assurance on MSP, then there is no point for farmers to continue their agitation.
This might make sense but it will not find any resonance among protesting farmers who may think that the deputy chief minister is speaking the language of the Centre — and this is something what JJP MLAs would worry the most given the sentiments of farmers running high. And this could be felt in some of the statements given by JJP MLAs while speaking to The Indian Express.
Devender Babli, JJP MLA from Tohana, said that his party leaders were supporting the alliance with the BJP but this did not mean that they will be mute spectators if they see someone being exploited. He also said they they will even go and sit with the farmers on the roads if such a time comes. “If Union government fails to convince farmers, we stand by farmers’ side,” Babli told The Indian Express.
Another JJP MLA from Barwala, Jogi Ram Sihag, was more explicit in his statements and said that three farm laws will not only damage farmers, but also the common people. “I can’t say anything about party’s stand. Only Dushyant ji will talk about it…unless these three legislations are repealed or suitable amendments are made, farmer will not survive. Even country will not be able to survive,” Sihag was quoted as saying by IE.
Sihag further said that JJP has 10 MLAs. “If we leave this mother, son duo and another one Anoop Dhanak, rest all seven of us have come from here and there. There is not much attraction with the party. That’s why none of the seven has any problem. It is right that he (Dushyant) does his own politics, we do ours. We had to become MLA, we wanted the ticket, we got it.
“Reality is that we got our votes, votes due to the party too and we became MLA. That is why we speak individually. Although, it does not happen in a party and it should not be happening. We are party MLAs, we are party’s office bearers. A party has its system, guidelines that what all should be spoken. It is not the case with us. We speak, whatever we think is right. No meeting has been held with us at the party level, so far,” the JJP MLA told IE.
A close reading of Sihag’s remarks about how he gets votes gives a sense that every leader has a certain vote base that might shift in case the leader decides to switch the side — it hasn’t been said in as many words but the signal is clear for Dushyant.