In Haryana Local Elections, Setback To BJP Amid Farmer Protests

The civic body elections come a year after Manohar Lal Khattar was re-elected. (File)

Chandigarh/ New Delhi:

A month after thousands of farmers began protesting the new agricultural laws near Delhi’s borders, the ruling BJP-JJP combine in neighbouring Haryana has suffered a blow in the municipal corporation elections. The ruling coalition has lost mayoral polls in Sonipat and Ambala, touted as a prestige battle a year after the state elections. Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala’s Jannayak Janata Party lost the local polls in its home turf – Hisar’s Ukalana – and Rewari’s Dharuhera. 

The civic body elections in Ambala, Panchkula, Sonipat, Rewari’s Dharuhera, Rohtak’s Sampla, and Hisar’s Uklana were held on Sunday. The counting of votes began this morning at 8 AM.

The Congress won Sonipat by a margin of nearly 14,000 votes. Nikhil Madaan wil be Sonipat’s first mayor. Resentment against the new agricultural laws was the reason of the BJP’s loss, the rival Congress claimed. “Congress has won the Sonipat Mayor Elections by a huge margin. Congress: 72,111. BJP: 58,300. Remember, Sonipat is right next to Singhu Border & is the Epicenter of Farmer Agitation in Haryana & UP. Nearly a year after the BJP-JJP alliance formed a government in Haryana, (sic),” Congress leader Srivatsa tweeted this afternoon.

In Ambala, Haryana Janachetana Party’s Shakti Rani Sharma is set to be the mayor after she won by over 8,000 votes. She is the wife of HJP chief Venod Sharma, an ex-Congress leader and former union minister. Their son Manu Sharma was convicted in Jessica Lal Murder case.

The BJP is ahead in Panchkula where votes are being counted.  Its coalition partner JJP, which has a strong rural base, has lost the polls in Dharuhera in Rewari and Hisar’s Uklana, its home turf. 

The farmers’ agitation had put Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala’s JJP in a bind after the Akali Dal in September quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance to protest the legislations, which the government says aim to bring long-pending reforms in the sector. Farmers say the laws will leave them at the mercy of private players.

Dushyant Chautala is the grandson of farmers’ leader and INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala, who is in jail for corruption. He had earlier said he would quit if he isn’t able to ensure minimum support price for farmers’ produce – a key demand of protesters. 

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Last week, he faced boycott in his home constituency – Uchana Kalan in Jind – when villagers dug up a helipad ahead of his visit. 

Several other villages in Haryana called for complete boycott of all leaders from state’s ruling coalition parties amid protests. Most farmers protesting on the outskirts of Delhi are from Haryana and Punjab. 

Last month, the Manohar Lal Khattar government was severely criticised for its handling of protesters, who faced water cannons and batons, when they were marching to the national capital. 

Thousands camping on the outskirts of Delhi are demanding repeal of the new laws that were cleared by parliament without much debate. 
 

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