Dera violence impact: Hooda & INLD go for Khattar’s jugular
The BJP government in Haryana has faced flak from all quarters for its inept handling of the violent protests that followed the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. The Manohar Lal Khattar government’s failure to prevent Dera supporters at Panchkula is said to have been the major reason why the protests went out of control, leading to the death of at least 36 people.
Now Opposition parties like the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal have decided to go for Khattar’s jugular. Both the parties are demanding that the Khattar government be ousted and President’s Rule be imposed in the state.
Haryana will go to the polls in 2019 a few months after the Lok Sabha elections.
Hooda slams Khattar
Leading the charge from the side of the Congress is former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. On Wednesday he visited Panchkula, the theatre of violence on August 25 in which over 30 people were killed and more than 250 injured.
“Dealing with such a situation is the collective responsibility of the Cabinet. It failed and collapsed. The people have lost faith in this government. Either it should quit on its own or the Centre should dismiss in and impose President's rule in the state,” Hooda said.
Hooda said that if the Khattar government is not removed, the Congress would go to the people who will throw this government out. Hooda will be launching the next phase of his Kisan and Mazdoor Panchayats from Dadri on September 17. He will be playing up the Panchkula violence at these meetings.
He said that while the courts delivered justice in the case, the state government failed to fulfill its constitutional duties and did not adhere to 'Raj Dharma'. He further attacked Khattar for not coordinating with his Punjab counterpart Captain Amarinder Singh. “It has been the case of Nero playing flute while Rome burnt. While Amarinder was on the ground, Khattar was holding a special meeting. It also reminds one of how the Nawab of Awadh was busy playing chess while his kingdom was being attacked,” said Hooda.
He further dismissed the Haryana government's submission before the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the build-up of Dera supporters was allowed along with the permission to the Dera chief to travel in a massive cavalcade running into around 200 vehicles. “It is an afterthought alibi,” he said.
Reacting to the allegations that his government provided 'Z' plus security to the Dera chief, Hooda said the 'Z' plus security was provided to the godman by the Centre following an attack on him. “Even if I had provided him this security, why did you continue with it over the last three years?” he asked Khattar.
He further said that more than 75 people have died in violence during the three years of BJP regime in Haryana and this is more than the casualties in violent protests in all the three previous regimes put together.
INLD on the offensive
The INLD sent its delegation to meet the state Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki on Tuesday where it demanded the imposition of President's Rule in the state. The memorandum submitted by the INLD points out, “As a result of brinkmanship and vote-bank politics, the Khattar government on three occasions allowed situations to take a violent turn, resulting in loss of life and property.”
Pointing to the state's 'complicity' in the Panchkula violence, the INLD said, “For four days it not only allowed the followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda to gather in Panchkula but also directly and indirectly played the role of a host. As a result, huge crowds had swarmed the city that ultimately pitched faith against the law of the land. Thus the government encouraged the Dera followers to blatantly try to intimidate the judiciary and shake the faith of those who believe that it is the ultimate sanctuary of citizens seeking justice”.
Both Hooda and the INLD have pointed that the BJP leaders along with a number of ministers in the Khattar government are known to have periodically made a beeline to the Dera to curry favour, and thereby, first win votes and then retain that vote bank.
“Two senior ministers of the Khattar government Anil Vij and Ram Bilas Sharma are known to have made grants of Rs 50 lakh and Rs 51 lakh to the Dera, BJP MLA from Rohtak Manish Grover gave a grant of Rs 11 lakhs and Union minister Vijay Goel gave a grant of Rs. 31 lakhs from the government exchequer even though they knew that Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was facing charges of rape and murder and that the trial was in its final stages. This nexus undermines the rule of law. Unfortunately it happened because of the active connivance of the BJP government because it is convinced that those who use faith and religion for furthering their material interests are allowed to indulge in activities that flout law and exploit and intimidate common citizens,” the INLD memorandum said.
The INLD and the Congress have been traditional political rivals in Haryana. The BJP managed to form the government in the state for the first time in 2014 riding the Modi wave. However, the BJP could not infiltrate the Jat heartland and won majority of seats along the GT Road. It took a bold step of anointing Khattar, a non-Jat and that too a Punjabi with an RSS background, as the chief minister. Jats have dominated Haryana politics with the exception of Bhajan Lal being the sole non-Jat force to reckon with.
With Khattar cornered, both the INLD and the Congress want to go for the kill and retain their support base among the electorate and this is an opportune moment provided to them by the BJP.