BJP in Haryana now looks at independents to 'keep' govt intact

By Vishal Gulati

Chandigarh, Jun 9 (IANS): As the crucial alliance partner in the BJP-led government in Haryana, the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) is non-committal on pre-poll alliance for the 2024 parliamentary elections, the saffron party has started looking at independent legislators to keep its government intact, at least till the Assembly polls likely in October next year, political observers said on Friday.

Amidst preparations by the BJP and the JJP separately to woo the electorate for the Lok Sabha polls, four independent legislators have met BJP in-charge for the state, Biplab Kumar Deb, in Delhi.

Deb in a tweet shared photos of MLAs Dharam Pal Gonder, Rakesh Daultabad, Randhir Singh and Somveer Sangwan, who expressed confidence in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership.

The meeting was held on Thursday.

Deb said his party is leaving no stone unturned for the state's progress under the "double engine" government.

"We are saying that the BJP will once again clinch all 10 Lok Sabha seats of Haryana, whereas the JJP leaders are asking the public to remove the deputy tag from Dushyant Chautala's name and elect him as chief minister," state BJP state chief Om Prakash Dhankar was quoted as saying, adding, "The decision to contest in alliance with the JJP or without them will be announced at the right time."

On the other hand, Deputy Chief Minister and JJP leader Dushyant Chautala has been quoted as saying on the alliance, "Can't say what will happen in the future".

The Lok Sabha elections are due in May next while the term of the present Vidhan Sabha is ending in October 2024.

Two-time chief minister and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who is touring across the state, told IANS in an interview this week the party is geared up to go to the polls anytime.

"If the Election Commission orders Assembly polls now, we are fully ready to contest," he said.

He has been slamming the BJP-JJP government for misleading the farmers and the state on the construction of the Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, bringing back into focus the decades-old contentious issue of sharing of river waters between Haryana and Punjab.

"The decision (relating to the SYL) has already been given by the Supreme Court in favour of Haryana. It's the responsibility of the government to implement this decision," he told IANS in an interaction here.

Responding to another question, Hooda objected to cooperative banks charging interest on crop loans from the farmers.

During the Congress tenure, the interest was reduced to zero while giving relief to farmers on crop loans. "The burden on the farmers was borne by the government itself and no interest was charged from the farmers, but the present government did not renew this scheme of interest relief. Because of this, banks started collecting interest from the farmers," he said.

He said the BJP-JJP government should renew the scheme implemented by the Congress without delay.

"The farmers from whom interest has been recovered so far should be refunded and it should be ensured that such recovery will not happen to any farmer in future."

He told IANS the government has not taken a single decision in the interest of the farmers till date.

"Sunflower farmers are waiting for MSP (minimum support price), but the government is talking of Bhavantar Bharpai Yojana. Farmers are facing a loss of Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,500 per quintal. The government is running away from its responsibility of giving the MSP to them.

"One by one, crops with the MSP are also being linked to such Bhavantar Bharpai Yojana, which does not benefit the farmers," Hooda explained.

Under the Bhavantar Bharpai Yojana, the government pays a fixed compensation against the produce sold below the MSP.

Currently, the government is facing protests from sunflower growers.

They have warned authorities to immediately release their nine leaders, including Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) state president Gurnam Singh Charuni, who were sent to custody for 14 days for blocking the National Highway-44 on June 6, otherwise a massive rally would be held on June 12.

BKU leader Rakesh Tikait has threatened a larger agitation than the year-long protest against the now repealed farm laws if the government did not announce a legal guarantee of the MSP for procurement of crops.

The farmers have been demanding procurement of sunflower seed at the fixed MSP of Rs 6,400 per quintal.

On May 30, the BJP-led government included sunflower seeds in the list of crops covered under the Bhavantar Bharpai Yojana (BBY), under which Rs 1,000 per quintal is provided to farmers for selling their produce to private buyers.

Upset over the growing anger of the farmers, JJP legislator from Shahabad, Ram Karan Kala, threatened to resign from his post as the chairman of the Haryana Sugar Federation if the government failed to accept farmers' demand to procure sunflower seeds at the MSP.

In the 2018 Assembly polls, the ruling BJP won 40 seats but failed to cross the halfway mark in the 90-member Assembly.

Also eight ministers, except two, lost the polls. The rival Congress won 31 seats, while the less than year old JJP, which broke away from the state's once major regional Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) owing to family disputes, won 10 seats.

BJP, which was six short of a majority, had an alliance with the JJP.

At that time seven independent MLAs have also extended support to the BJP, helping it reach a tally of 57 seats.


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Title: BJP in Haryana now looks at independents to 'keep' govt intact

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