The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday accused the Congress of “continuously instigating agitating farmers” which led to the violence during the tractor rally taken out by farmers groups on Republic Day on Tuesday, and singled out the Captain Amarinder Singh-led Punjab government of not taking acting against “habitual offenders” who, the BJP said, had headed to Delhi for the rally.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar in a press conference late in the evening on Wednesday squarely blamed the Congress and the party’s government in Punjab for inciting protesters that led to the violence. “They [the Congress] want to provoke violence, provoke the police to take harsh action, to create instability, that is all the politics the Congress is now reduced to,” he said.
“The government has held 10 rounds of talks with farmers groups, and also said it was ready to suspend the laws for a year or two, to discuss the laws clause by clause. The laws dealing with agricultural reform were just to give an option to farmers. The Congress also understands this but did not want any compromise to work out. They want to spoil the atmosphere in the country only because they lost the elections. That Congress would attempt this on Republic Day shows the depths to which their politics has sunk. They cannot escape responsibility as they are in power in Punjab,” he said.
He lauded the Delhi Police for “showing restraint” in the face of provocation. “The Delhi Police showed remarkable restraint yesterday. They had weapons but they did not use them despite being attacked by swords, rods, lathi s and managed to bring order in a few hours,” he said.
“The people of this country have seen all, and will give an appropriate response to this. The Congress tried the same tactics by instigating protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, and now with the farm laws, and I’m sure they will try again. Despite Congress’ efforts farmers have not agitated in many other States,” he said.
The BJP’s official statement in the wake of the violence during the tractor rally that led to the death of one protestor, the chaos at the Red Fort, and injuries to around 300 policemen on duty at that time, shows that it is determined to seize the moral high it feels farmer groups have ceded as violence erupted on Republic Day despite assurances by farm leaders that the protest rally would be peaceful.
A section of the party, however, also feels that the sequence of events has consolidated people in their own positions and the party will have to work hard to remove the anti-farmer tag from itself, especially in Punjab and Haryana. In Haryana, the resignation of Indian National Lok Dal MLA Abhay Chautala is being seen as an attempt by him to pressurise his nephew and Jannayak Janata Party leader Dushyant Chautala, whose party also rests on Jat support, to withdraw support from the Manohar Lal Khattar led government in the State. “We are watching developments as of now,” said a senior BJP leader.
With two farmers groups withdrawing their blockade from two points on the Delhi border, and the Samyukta Kisan Morcha group cancelling another proposed march on February 1, the day the Union budget is to be tabled, the party is breathing a sigh of relief.