The BJP-Jannayak Janata Party government in Haryana has opened negotiations with farmers’ bodies to look into their demands after hundreds of cultivators – protesting against three Central government ordinances – clashed with police in Pipli of Kurukshetra district on Thursday. The government is under tremendous pressure to mend their equation with farmers after its own leaders disapproved the police’s lathicharge and tweeted against the action.
BJP’s Haryana chief OP Dhankar, a towering regional leader who had been the president of the party’s farmers’ body, on Friday, formed a three-member committee – comprising Hisar MP Brijendra Singh, Bhiwani-Mahendragarh MP Dharambir Singh and Kurukshetra MP Naib Saini – to hold talks with farmers.
Three meetings of the panel with the farmers’ bodies have been scheduled to assuage their anger after Thursday’s clash – two on Saturday in Rohtak and Karnal and the third on Sunday in Panchkula.
The farmers were protesting against three agriculture-related ordinances brought on June 5 – The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, as, they said, the ordinances are anti-farmer.
In the police action, many farmers were injured. On Friday, the district police registered cases against 300 farmers, including Bharatiya Kisan Union chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni, for damaging public property and violating restrictions on assembly.
The Congress was swift to capitalise on the opportunity to attack the BJP-led government. Former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and other leaders visited the village on Friday. “We will not allow the government to implement the recently introduced anti-farmer ordinances. We support our farmers in their fight,” Mr Hooda said.
The BJP had appointed Mr Dhankar as the state chief earlier this year with hopes that he will bring farmers on board. However, after the incident in Kurukshetra, he is expected to have a tough time negotiating.
After the incident, BJP’s Hisar MP Brijendra Singh had called the incident painful. “The episode during the agitation of farmers in Kurukshetra is painful. I believe the farming community has the right to raise their demands. The restrictions related to corona apply equally to all sections of society. I condemn the efforts to make an example of the farmers by lathicharging them,” he tweeted on Thursday.
Former Haryana finance minister and senior BJP leader, Captain Abhimanyu, was also critical of the police’s move.
Mr Chaduni, meanwhile, has threatened to intensify protests if his demands are not met. “If the farmers’ demands are not met by September 14, there would be protests at all district headquarters, and on September 20, all roads in the state will be blocked,” he said.