Business Standard

Exit of Haryana BJP leaders puts focus back on farm protests


Former Union minister Birender Singh and his wife Prem Lata on Tuesday joined the Congress, a day after quitting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Last month, their son Brijendra Singh had joined the Congress after quitting the BJP.

Prem Lata is a former BJP member of the Legislativ­e Assembly (MLA). Birender Singh is the maternal grandson of farmer leader Sir Chhotu Ram and served as a Union minister in the NDA government. He had joined the BJP in 2014 after 42 years with the Congress.

The exit of Haryana’s fatherson duo from the BJP has brought back the focus on the farmers’ agitation. Singh’s family has long been seen as pro-farmer. After his exit on Monday, Singh said he had raised the issue of farmers’ protest on party platforms and urged for the resolution of their grievances. “I felt while I was giving suggestion­s, those were not being heeded.” Singh had openly extended support to the farmers’ agitation against the now-repealed farm laws.

His wife Prem Lata also cited the protest as one of the reasons for the exit. “When he [Birender Singh] joined the BJP, he intended to remain with the party for life. However, some developmen­ts, such as the farmers’ agitation, took place during which he stood with the farmers. In his mind, he believes the farmers’ issues have not been fully resolved to this day,” she said.

Brijendra, who quit as a civil servant to join politics and won the Hissar seat on a BJP ticket in 2019, had also cited “compelling political reasons” for his exit. Farmers’ protests were one of them. “It gives an impression that there is still discontent in the party about farmers’ protest,” said a political analyst, who did not wish to be named. “There was a wide gap between some leaders in the state and central leadership.”

Another analyst Mahabir Jaglan believes senior leaders in the state were unhappy with how the protests were handled by the Centre. “Leave Birender Singh, even the apprehensi­ons of the then CM Manohar Lal Khatter were not heard,” Jaglan said. “They never wanted the farmers to be treated in the way they were.”

Last month, former Haryana MLA Rampal Majra rejoined the Indian National Lok Dal as its state unit chief, a post lying vacant after Nafe Singh Rathee was shot dead in February. Majra joined the BJP in 2019 and later quit the party during the farmers’ agitation. Before that, in 2020, Parminder Dhull, BJP MLA from Julana, and his son Ravindra Dhull, who was with the BJP media cell, had also quit the party over the farm laws.

Sanjay Kumar, co-director of Lokniti at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, said that the exit of the fatherson may also have been due to the fact that farmers constitute­d a majority of their vote bank.

“It is not a matter of any ideology. But they must have felt that staying in the party would have impacted their vote base,” he said.

However, Abhimanyu Bhatiya, co-founder of The School of Politics disagrees. He said that they left as they could not secure tickets for the upcoming elections. “If they were concerned about farmers’ protest, they would have already left in the last couple of years,” he said.

In the upcoming elections, Jaglan said that the entry of Singhs has the potential to benefit the Congress in the state, which has already made deep inroads in several districts, especially in and around Jind.

 ?? PHOTO: PTI ?? Former Union Minister Birender Singh (centre) with Congress leaders at AICC headquarte­rs, in New Delhi on Tuesday
PHOTO: PTI Former Union Minister Birender Singh (centre) with Congress leaders at AICC headquarte­rs, in New Delhi on Tuesday

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India