Jat leaders come forward in solidarity with farmers against the agricultural laws

New Delhi: Jat leaders from across the political spectrum are coming out in support of the protests raging against the three central farm laws owing to political compulsion or opportunism, as the majority of protestors belong to the Jat community.

On Monday, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Chautala sent a conditional resignation letter to the speaker of the Haryana assembly. He wrote that if the Centre does not take back the farm laws by January 26, then the letter should be considered his resignation from the assembly.

The INLD used to enjoy a massive support among the Jat community, but the formation of the JJP by Abhay’s brother Digvijay Chautala came as a big jolt for the party. In the 2019 election, the JJP cornered the support base of the INLD, which won only one assembly seat. On the other hand, the JJP won 10 seats.

The farmers’ protest presents an opportunity to Abhay Chautala to revive his political fortunes in the state as the Jat community is unhappy with the JJP being part of the NDA government. Jats form 27 per cent of Haryana’s electorate and have a say in more than 40 assembly seats out of the total 90 seats in the state.

In western Uttar Pradesh, the RLD used to be the peasants’ party with a strong base among the Jat voters. However, its political fortunes dwindled as the Jat community largely shifted to the BJP in the past two Lok Sabha elections. Currently it has no MP or MLA.

The party has been organising ‘jan jagran’ (mass awareness) meetings in villages of western UP to apprise farmers about the three farm laws as it hopes to win back the support of the Jat community amid the agitation. On Monday, RLD president Ajit Singh issued a statement appealing to the farmers not to bow down and to stand tough with their demand of repeal of the three farm laws.

Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLD) leader and Nagaur MP, Hanuman Beniwal, has already announced his exit from the NDA on farm laws. Beniwal is personally participating in farmer agitations at different borders of Delhi. He had formed his party during the 2018 assembly election after moving away from the BJP.

He has three MLAs and himself is an MP. His party did well in the Jat pockets of Rajasthan and, being a Jat himself, he wants to become the leader of the community, which accounts for nine per cent population of the state. It could have been detrimental for his party to be seen with the government on the farmers’ issue when the community is on the streets.

Senior Haryana BJP leader Chaudhary Birender Singh has openly expressed his support to the farmers, going against the party line. Singh had told ET that he was no longer in electoral politics. But his son, Brijendra Singh, is a BJP MP from Hisar.

His wife, Premlata, lost the previous assembly election against JJP leader Dushyant Chautala. Now, as the community’s anger against the JJP, Singh, grandson of peasant leader Sir Chhotu Ram, is solidly supporting the farmers’ movement.

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