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BJP Ally, Hanuman Beniwal, Threatens To Quit Coalition Over Farm Laws

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New Delhi:

After the Akali Dal broke off ties with the ruling BJP, another ally has threatened to quit the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over farm laws. In a tweet addressed to Home Minister Amit Shah, Rajasthan MP Hanuman Beniwal, chief of the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP), has demanded that three new agricultural laws at the core of massive farmer protests near Delhi be scrapped.

Mr Beniwal also urged the BJP-led central government to talk to the farmers immediately instead of Thursday, when a second round of ministerial talks has been scheduled over the protests.

“Mr Amit Shah, in view of the countrywide sentiment in support of the ongoing farmers’ movement, the recently introduced three bills related to agriculture should be immediately withdrawn. (The centre must) implement all recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, and immediately hold dialogue with farmers in Delhi,” tweeted Mr Beniwal, whose RLP counts farmers among its biggest supporters.

“RLP is an NDA constituent, but its power comes from farmers and jawans. If prompt action is not taken in this matter, I will have to rethink the issue of being a partner in the NDA in the interest of farmers,” he added.

Mr Beniwal’s threat comes after the BJP lost one of its oldest allies, the Shiromani Akali Dal, over the passage of farm bills in September.

The RLP has a huge support base among the Jats, a politically powerful community of land-holding farmers in 10-15 Lok Sabha seats of Rajasthan. The party had contested the last Rajasthan election in alliance with the BJP.

Mr Beniwal also said governments of neighbouring states, including BJP-ruled Haryana, should not adopt any oppressive policy against farmers.

“If the police and governments adopted oppressive policy against farmers, the RLP will hold demonstrations across the country, including Rajasthan, in favour of farmers,” he had said on Thursday.

He had earlier hinted he would join the Delhi protest with lakhs of farmers from Rajasthan.

The BJP-led central government is facing increasing pressure from partners, former allies and opposition parties to address demands of farmers who, in continuation of their months-long protest, have been camping along Delhi’s borders for five days, effectively cutting off the city from all sides.

Home Minister Amit Shah met Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Monday second time within 24 hours after farmers protesting against the laws rejected the Centre’s proposal of early talks over the condition to shift their protest to the venue in north Delhi.

The farmers said the government should have approached them with “an open heart” and shouldn’t have placed conditions.

They fear that the suggested protest site could become a jail. “Delhi Police told the Uttarakhand Farmers Association chief that they’ll take them to Jantar Mantar but instead locked them at Burari Park,” said Surjeet Phul, Bharatiya Kisan Union president.

For nearly three months, the farmers have been up in arms against the laws aimed at bringing reforms by doing away with middlemen and improving farmers’ earnings by allowing them to sell produce anywhere in the country.

Farmers and opposition parties allege that the laws will deprive the farmers of guaranteed minimum price for their produce and leave them at the mercy of corporates.

The BJP-led central government maintains the opposition parties are misleading farmers, who have repeatedly said their movement is completely independent.

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