The Bharatiya Janata Party, while explaining its recent setback in the Haryana civic body elections amid the farmers’ protest, on Thursday said that its tally took a hit because its voters were on a holiday, NDTV reported.
“December 25, 26, 27 were holidays,” Haryana BJP spokesperson Sanjay Sharma was quoted as saying by the news channel. “And you know in December when the year is ending and when there’s a bunch of holidays, people tend to go out on long trips. Unfortunately, most of those who went on holiday were people who make the BJP’s vote bank.”
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, meanwhile, claimed that the BJP did well in the elections despite “odd circumstances”, PTI reported. His reference was apparently to the farmers’ agitation.
The coalition government in Haryana on Wednesday lost mayoral elections in Sonipat and Ambala. It, however, managed to win the mayoral seat in Panchkula. The Jannayak Janata Party, led by Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, lost the elections in Hisar’s Ukalana municipal committee and Dharuhera in Rewari district. Both the areas are considered to be JJP’s home turf.
The Manohar Lal Khattar-led Haryana government has been severely criticised for authorising the use of water cannons and tear gas on the farmers, when they began their march to Delhi in November. Khattar had also claimed that his government had “inputs” on presence of Khalistani separatists in the ongoing farmers’ agitation.
Chautala, on the other hand, last week promised to resign from his post if he is unable to ensure the minimum support price guarantee for the procurement of farmers’ crops. His party has a huge farmers’ vote base.
Hundreds of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at Delhi’s borders for over a month, blocking highways in giant demonstrations against the new legislations. They fear the reforms will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce and leave them at the mercy of corporations. Many have died due to the biting cold.
On Wednesday, the government held its sixth round of talks with farmers’ unions. They reached a consensus on two key concerns – stubble burning penalty and the Electricity Amendment Act. The next meeting is scheduled to take place on January 4 and will focus on Minimum Support Price and the farmers’ demand to repeal the laws.