CHANDIGARH: Two MLAs of the Haryana's Jannayak Janta Party, which is part of the BJP-led ruling coalition in Haryana, on Sunday participated in farmers' protests in the state against the Centre's farm-sector bills passed by Parliament, going against their party stand on the issue.
JJP's Barwala MLA Jogi Ram Sihag and Shahabad legislator Ram Karan Kala joined the farmers' protests even as Haryana Deputy Chief Minister and JJP leader Dushyant Chautala accused the Congress of misleading farmers, asserting that none of the farm sectors bills has any hint of abolishing the minimum support price mechanism for the crop procurement.
But the two JJP MLAs joining the farmers' protests and two others -- Ram Kumar Gautam and Devender Babli too differing from the party's stand on the issue earlier, reflected a rift on the issue among the party ranks.
On a call by the Bharatiya Kisan Union and backed by some other farmer outfits, MLAs Sihag and Kala joined the farmers' road blockade protests at Barwala in Hisar and Shahabad in Kurukshetra district respectively on Sunday.
With JJP's considerable vote base belonging to the rural hinterland of the state, Barwala MLA Sihag said he would not hesitate even from resigning if his constituents feel farmers' interests are compromised and want him to quit at any point.
About the farm reforms, he said, It will only lead to the exploitation of farmers at the hands of big corporates."
JJP's Shahabad Kala too justified his presence at the protest site, saying he felt farmers' voices should be heard.
Accusing the Congress of misleading farmers, Haryana Deputy Chief Minister and JJP leader Dushyant Chautala asserted that there is not even a hint of abolishing the MSP mechanism in either of the three farm-sector reform bills.
"Nowhere in the new farm reform bill, there is any talk of abolishing the crop MSP," said Dushyant Chautala, while talking to reporters here.
He said the day farmers do not get the Minimum Support Price for their crops, he would be quit his post.
"The day, under the present system, if a farmer does not get the MSP for his crop, I will quit my post," said Dushyant, a great-grandson of late Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal, considered farmers' messiah.
"I come from a farmer's family and I will do anything to ensure farmers' welfare," he said.
Defending the farm Bills, Dushyant Chautala said the crops of the farmers would be procured on the MSP and the reforms give them wider choice than what they have now.
They would be able to sell their crops even outside 'mandis' if they receive higher rates, he pointed out.
Asserting that the MSP mechanism will be there to stay, he asked farmers not to be misled.
Dushyant Chautala also accused former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda of trying to misguide farmers to further his own political interests.
"Not only did Hooda himself advocate open market for farmers but also signed on such recommendations of a committee set up by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, of which the former CM was head, during the UPA regime," he said, accusing the Congress leader of having "double standards".
He also said, "The Congress party supported contract farming in its vision document during its first tenure of the UPA and now Congress is opposing the farm bills for political gains".
Chautala said the farm reforms undertaken by the Centre will open new avenues of progress for the agriculturists.
On the upcoming paddy procurement season, he said each grain would be procured on MSP.
He had also earlier condemned the lathi-charge on farmers during a protest in Kurukshetra's Pipli on September 10.
Dushyant's brother and JJP leader Digvijay Singh Chautala too had on Thursday apologised for the lathi-charge on farmers in Pipli, saying if any of them was hit, it was the family of late Devi Lal which was hurt.
Dushyant's JJP, which won 10 seats in the 2019 state assembly elections, had extended support to BJP after they ended up winning 40 seats in the 90-member assembly.
Chief Minister ML Khattar, meanwhile in a tweet, congratulated farmers on the "historic occasion" of the passage of the Farm Bills by Parliament, saying the reforms will empower them and are a step aimed at freeing peasants from the middlemen's clutches.
Haryana Agriculture Minister J P Dalal asserted that the farm reforms will play an important role in fulfilling Prime Minister Narendra Modi's aim of doubling the farmers' income by 2022.
Dalal said some politicians have become used to indulging in petty politics in the name of farmers.
He said that it would have been far better if they had read the Bills in detail before issuing their statements.