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Khaps in U.P. rebuff BJP olive branch over farm laws

Farmers’ leaders are seen during a kisan Panchayat in Bilari. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Attempts by BJP leaders to reach out to khaps in western Uttar Pradesh to break the dead lock on farm laws has been met with stiff resistance. On Sunday, Sachin Jawla, the Chaudhary of Jawla khap of 12 villages in Shamli and Muzaffarnagar district declared he was not interested in meeting Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan.

“He reached out to us, but we have turned down the offer,” said Mr. Jawla, the 34-year-old who has recently taken over as the head of the khap after the death of his father. “If he wants to talk to us, he should either resign from the post of Union minister or request Tikaitji (Naresh Tikait, president of Bharatiya Kisan Union) to call a panchayat of khaps. It seems he is looking for a photo opportunity with a young khap Chaudhary to tell the world that the khaps are not united in the fight for law on assured Minimum Support Price,” he added.

 

Mr. Jawla’s rebuff comes after Mr. Balyan told a television channel that he had met leaders of khaps and tried to understand their point of view. “The government had many ways to put an end to this protest, but we believe in dialogue,” the Minister had said. Mr. Balyan also told the channel all things that are said during a speech are not meant to be acted upon. “Baat aayi, baat gayi,” he said.

Last week, Mr. Naresh Tikait had said at a panchayat in Muzaffarnagar that farmers should refrain from inviting BJP leaders to weddings and functions and those who would, will have to feed 200 people.

Surinder Chaudhary, the head of the Desh khap of 84 villages said on Friday that he didn't want to meet BJP leaders. “We are not children who need to be told the benefits of the laws. They should talk to Samyukt Kisan Morcha. Public representatives should put our demands to the government and if they cannot, they should resign and join us,” he said.

In a related development, Yogendra Ahlawat, a farmer from Bhainsi village in Muzaffarnagar district destroyed his wheat crop on Sunday by running a rotavator over it. Mr Ahlawat said he would not let the crop come in the way of agitation for guaranteed MSP. He said their leader Gajendra Ahalwat said the Minister had reached his residence without invitation. “Still, 200 people will go to his residence on Wednesday and he would have to feed them from his own kitchen as per the decision of the sarva khap panchayat.” The BJP leaders, he said, should first resign and then meet us. “This government is taking us lightly,” he added.

 

Dharmendra Malik, BKU media in-charge, said the Union was not stopping anybody from meeting BJP leaders. “They are only being advised to put their questions to them. And our reports suggest farmers are giving them a tough time,” he said.

Admitting that he supported the BJP on the Ram Temple and Pulwama, Mr. Jawla asserted that the party had let the farmers down. He underlined that khaps didn’t belong to one caste and the BJP leadership made a mistake by calling it an agitation of Jats. “People of all castes find representation in a khap. Since morning, I have been getting calls from leaders of all communities not to indulge Mr. Balyan,” he said.

On Saturday, another farmer from Bijnor district had destroyed a part of his wheat crop after listening to the speech of Rakesh Tikait where he uged farmers to be ready to sacrifice their standing crop. Mr Tikait had later clarified that time was still not ripe to sacrifice crops and that farmers should not take his call literally.

Countering the calls, Sahendra Singh Ramala, the BJP MLA from Chhaprauli, who was present at the two meetings of Jat leaders called in Delhi by the BJP leadership, said, “I have been meeting farmers in my constituency freely and am being invited to functions by the community. When I ask farmers about the protest, they say they were going to protest site just because the pradhan asked them to. They have also been asked to fund the protest,” he said.

Mr. Ramala who won on an Rashtriya Lok Dal ticket in the 2017 Assembly polls before shifting loyalties, said the farm laws didn’t have to do much with western Uttar Pradesh. “The region doesn’t have a culture of mandis and the only issues are the pending payment of sugarcane and rising cost of inputs. It is just that after Mr Tikait’s emotional outburst, community feels that his tears are community’s tears.”

On the political impact of the protest, Mr. Ramala said he couldn’t comment, “Janta jandardan hai (the public is god).”

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 2:23:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/khaps-in-up-rebuff-bjp-olive-branch-over-farm-laws/article33896028.ece

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