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Khattar govt tries to set house in order ahead of Amit Shah's Jind visit

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 9 February 2018, 18:00 IST
(Arya Sharma)

As the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) National President Amit Shah comes to Haryana for a bike rally, the Manohar Lal Khattar-led government has got down to ensure a perfect picture for him.

The BJP will face an arduous task in terms of repeating its 2014 General Election performance, given the fact that the Khattar government has gone from one disaster to another.

Jat outfits and farmers' groups have threatened to disrupt his efforts and the state government has begun making friendly overtures towards them to prevent any untoward incident.

To begin with, the government is trying its best to pacify the agitated Jats who have threatened to cross roads with BJP's bike rally with a 'Bhaichara Nyay Yatra' on 15 February. The government has reportedly extended an olive branch to the community by deciding to withdraw 85 cases pertaining to the violence during the 2016 Jat reservation agitation.

The Haryana government reportedly has approved withdrawal of 85 FIRs against 869 Jat protesters from 13 districts. Majority of these cases are of rioting, unlawful assembly, wrongful restraint, disobedience of orders promulgated by a public servant and obstructing a public servant from discharging duty. At the same time the government has made it clear that there is no move to withdraw cases of heinous crimes like murder and arson.

The Khattar government had earlier approved withdrawal of 138 FIRs against 1,158 Jat protesters in March following a truce with the All Indian Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (AIJASS) leader Yashpal Malik last year but a large number of such applications filed by public prosecutors were not accepted by the courts compelling the government to file appeals before the higher courts in some cases.

The AIJASS has been accusing the Haryana government of failing to implement the promises made last year and have threatened yet another agitation which the Khattar government can ill afford in the run-up to the polls.

The AIJASS has been asking when cases against the Jat agitators would be withdrawn and jobs would be provided to the kin of those killed in the violence of February 2016. The Jats have been questioning when the Bill on National Socially and Educationally Backward Classes would be passed in the Lok Sabha and by when they should expect reservation benefits. The other issues being raised are of the BJP's failure to rope in its leaders like the Kurukshetra MP Raj Kumar Saini who have been spewing venom against other communities.

On the other hand, the Khattar government has started making overtures to the agitated farmers in this primarily rural state. On Tuesday, the government issued directions to the crop insurance companies to settle the crop insurance claims of farmers under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) within ten days. The farmers have been complaining of the government having amassed money through compulsory collection of insurance premiums while very little has been given to the farmers claiming crop insurance claims. The government however claims that during the Kharif-Rabi season 2016-17, so far Rs 12.86 crore have been distributed on the basis of claims besides Rs 257 crore being distributed on the basis of claims of average production.

In yet another major move, Khattar has announced setting up of ‘Haryana Kisan Kalyan Pradhikaran’ (Haryana Farmer Welfare Authority) to make agriculture remunerative, enhance farm productivity and farmer's income, and also to mitigate the physical, financial and psychological distress of farm households and landless workers. Many more such overtures by the state government are expected in the days to come.

The BJP workers in the state have been working overtime to make Shah's Jind rally a success. In a recent briefing state BJP chief Subhash Barala claimed that one lakh youngsters would reach Shah's rally on motorcycles.

The BJP clearly stands on the back foot in Haryana at present with the state government taking a consistent beating on its failure to tackle the law and order situation on one hand and consistent nuisance of Hindutva elements on the other in terms of cow vigilantism, violence against Dalits and the recent attack on school bus with children on release of Bollywood film Padmavat.

The party is not expected to get support from the Jat community that stands annoyed not only on the issue of reservation but the manner in which it was vilified and estranged from the remaining 35 'Biradaris' (communities) after the reservation agitation. Experts say that the Jats who constitute one fourth of the electorate are expected to vote one sided in the coming polls. However they are yet undecided whether to back the Congress or the Indian National Lok Dal.

The growing unemployment that has followed demonetisation and shoddy implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is also expected to take a political toll on the party. It remains to be seen how the BJP workers manage to stem the slide in the coming months.

First published: 9 February 2018, 18:00 IST