Several farmers organisations, Khaps and also the Tikait faction of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) on Thursday, November 30 and other farmers organisations, staged district wide protests against recent remarks by the BJP’s state agriculture minister stating that despite holding a position in the government, Haryana agriculture minister JP Dalal used derogatory language against the farmers and women farmers, and warned that a state-wide protest will be launched against him. The BKU protest was held under the leadership of district president Rattan Mann near mini secretariat in Karnal. The union also handed over a memorandum in the name of chief minister, demanding his dismissal from the cabinet.
Dalal draws flak
Large numbers of other farmers groups also held protests for instance, in the Uchana Kalan segment of Jind district and burnt an effigy of the minister. The farmer union in Jind has warned Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to take strict action against Dalal or face protests. Khap leaders in Jhajjar have also demanded an apology from Dalal and threatened to ban his entry into the district. Prahlad Singh Bharukhera, state president of another farmers’ organisation, the Rashtriya Kisan Manch, was also quoted by the media saying that the minister’s comments showed his frustration as the “people were against the BJP-JJP government”.
“The people of Haryana are fed up with the BJP-JJP government and have decided to root them out in the coming elections. This is the reason its leaders are frustrated,” Bharukhera said. He too demanded Dalal’s dismissal. The Phogat Khap Panchayat also held a meeting over Dalal’s comments in Charkhi Dadri and condemned his statement. Balwant Phogat, president of the panchayat has said the Khap had demanded an apology from Dalal.
Haryana Agriculture Minister JP Dalal has courted controversy by using a crude metaphor while delivering a speech at a public meeting in his Gignow town of Bhiwani district that falls within the Loharu constituency on Sunday. Dalal, who is from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), advised the public to beware of farmer leaders who “instigate for an agitation for their selfish ends”… “They used to keep sitting idle here. I know all of them. Now, if I speak, they will say I speak badly about them. Their own wives don’t listen to them and they claim to be farmers’ saviours. I know them all. Some of them have three criminal cases against them and some have five. Someone’s daughter-in-law has eloped, and some one’s daughter. And they claim to be your leaders,” Dalal said. “You also know all about them. They say I can’t resist speaking out. Why? Have I taken any undue benefit from anyone? Why shouldn’t I speak?” he added, asking people to identify who was with them and who was “taking benefit by fooling people”.
The outrage and protests continued for four days.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi and CM Khattar should think about what kind of people they have selected to be MLAs and ministers in their government. We will wait for a week, and if the minister doesn’t apologise or if the CM doesn’t take action against him, we will call a meeting of Sarva Khap
Panchayat on this issue,” said Phogat.
Besides, the Dhankar Khap Panchayat also demanded a public apology from Dalal at its meeting in Jhajjar on Wednesday, November 29. “J.P. Dalal is an elected representative and is sitting in the position of a minister. A person occupying such a post using derogatory language for the wives and daughters of others isn’t acceptable to the Khaps. I have spoken to the representatives of the Kadian Khap and the Gulia Khap, both from Jhajjar district, and they too have expressed a deep sense of anger over Dalal’s remarks,” Yudhbir Singh Dhankar, president of the Dhankar Khap, speaking to the media.
“We demand a public apology from him, else we will call a meeting of the Sarva Khap Panchayat to decide our future course of action,” he added.
The memorandum submitted to CM Khattar by BKU states, “J.P. Dalal, a minister in your cabinet, uttered such hateful and indecent remarks on agitating farmers during a speech at Loharu which could not be justified in any manner. No one can justify remarks on bahus and betis (daughters-in-law and daughters). We don’t even feel comfortable reproducing the language used by the minister in this memorandum”.
“A sense of resentment prevails among people against Dalal’s utterance and your government is being criticised everywhere because of this. We have been forced to hold a protest at Karnal today. Through this memorandum, we demand Dalal’s dismissal from the cabinet and stern action against him,” it adds. Speaking to media after the demonstration, Rattan Mann, district president of the BKU that is headed at the national level by Naresh Tikait, said that through the memorandum, his outfit had threatened to launch an agitation if prompt action was not taken against the minister.
The Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella organisation that led the year-long farmers’ agitation, also demanded Dalal’s dismissal from the Haryana cabinet. In a statement Thursday, the organisation strongly condemned the minister’s remarks. “J.P. Dalal’s utterances not only degrade the activists of the farmers’ movement but more than that, his remarks demean the dignity of women as a whole,” it stated.
Congress criticises BJP minister
Condemning the remarks of Dalal,, former CM and Congress leader Hooda also said that people holding responsible positions should be careful while making statements and maintain decorum of language. While farmer leaders have demanded the minister’s removal from the Cabinet, Leader of Opposition and former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has demanded Dalal to apologise for his derogatory comments.
Sharply condemning these remarks, former CM and Congress leader Hooda said that people holding responsible positions should be careful while making statements and maintain decorum of language. “Indian culture and the culture of Haryana teach us that all sisters and daughters are respectable for us. But making derogatory comments about women to vent out political frustrations is unacceptable,” he said.
Hooda said that farmers are agitating for their legitimate demands and they have been forced to take to the streets and protest because the BJP-JJP government did not deliver on its promise.
“The government should consider the demands of the farmers with a responsible and sensitive attitude. But instead of doing this, people in power are insulting the food provider by using derogatory language. The agriculture minister should immediately apologise for his statement,” he added.
Hooda said the agriculture minister has made insensitive statements towards the farmers earlier too. “Repeatedly making shameful remarks towards farmers and their leader’s shows the frustration of those in power. Due to this attitude of the government, BJP-JJP have lost respect before the people,” he added.
The BJP minister, Dalal was unrepentant and even shared a video of his speech on his Meta account Monday, which has now gone viral on social media and led to demands for an apology as well as his dismissal from the BJP-Jannayak Janta Party state cabinet. Meanwhile, in a face-saving operation, Sanjay Sharma, spokesperson of the Haryana BJP, speaking to sections of the media said that Dalal’s words were not for common farmers but for certain “self-styled” farmer leaders.
In a post on X Tuesday, Congress leader and former Haryana minister Kiran Choudhry, who represents the Tosham assembly seat, described the minister’s statement as highly shameful and unbecoming of a political leader.
Choudhry also said to the media that it doesn’t behove a political leader to comment on women family members of farmer leaders, or anyone else for that matter.
She alleged that Dalal was used to making controversial statements and had made insensitive remarks over farmers’ deaths even during the Delhi protests.
Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Singh Chautala also came down heavily on Dalal for his comments. Sharing Dalal’s speech video on X, he described it as the BJP’s “anti-farmer and anti-women face”.
“When the BJP brought black laws, cane-charged the farmers, farmer organisations made the BJP government (at the Centre) come to its knees. Now, BJP leaders are again insulting farmers. The farmers will teach them a lesson during elections,” Chautala wrote in Hindi.