In a U-turn, a Punjab BJP leader, who had hit out at his own party’s leadership for “not listening” to the farm law protesters, on Saturday said that farmers can come to him with their team of lawyers and he will prove that the central agri laws are good for them and would resign from the party if proven otherwise.
Surjit Kumar Jyani, the chairman of BJP’s eight-member panel to interact with farmers, returned to Punjab from Delhi where he had gone being called by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on November 28. The former Punjab minister returned to his village Kathera in Fazilka district on December 24. Jyani said that during his 27-day stay in Delhi, he tried to coordinate between farmer unions and Union government so that issues could be resolved.
“However, now unions are talking about just ‘yes or no’. I urge union leaders to sit with me along with a team of their lawyers. My lawyers can also come, and both can discuss the farm laws with proposed changes at length. If it is proved that these three laws are not for the good of farmers, I will be the first person to resign from my party and sit on a dharna along with farmers. I will not mind sitting on a dharna outside the house of the PM too. I have gone through the laws in detail and lawyers known to me have also studied them. These laws are meant for the benefit of farmers. Many apprehensions of farmers have been addressed and if they have more doubts, these can also be addressed. However, they need to be ready for a meeting with a mind of discussion rather than just an approach of ‘yes or no’,” Jyani told The Indian Express.
This is nothing short of a volte face for Jyani who in October had said that his party had taken the wrong approach to the widespread protests over three legislations. “We must listen to what the farmers are saying but the party leadership is not ready to listen…If we have come out with some laws and the farmers are calling them ‘kala kanoon’ (black laws) then we have to convince them or bring something better for them. But the central leadership is not listening,” he had told the Indian Express.
Jyani had said that the leadership at the Centre must sit with farmers. “For God’s sake talk to them. I pray to JP Nadda, Amit Shah ji and Narendra Modi ji to listen to what the farmers have to say,” he had said.
Jyani had also condemned the barricading and use of teargas and water cannons by Haryana government last month to stop the farmers from going to Delhi. “When Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev could organise rallies in Ramlila Maidan, then why can’t farmers do the same…Yeh prajatantra hai. isme sab ko bolne ka haq hai (This is democracy, everyone has the right to speak),” he had said.
With farmer unions announcing resumption of talks on December 29, Jyani said .he will be returning to Delhi on December 28.
“Unions should think about the overall welfare of farmers rather than sticking over yes or no demand. The needed amendments have been done in the laws and more can be discussed. Union leaders should discuss other farming related issues with the Centre so as to get the issue of debt resolved. There are so many issues which need to be addressed as the present system of farming is also not leaving farmers happy,” he said.
Indefinite Dharna outside Jyani’s house
On Saturday, an indefinite dharna also began outside the house of Jyani similar to the one going on outside the houses of 30 others BJP leaders in Punjab.
When asked about the dharna outside his house, he said, “Let them organise a dharna, it is their right to protest in a democracy. Zindabaad, murdabaad are part of a politician’s life. We are well aware that everyone will not speak in our favour.”
He, however, argued: “When they have already gheraoed Delhi, they should not gherao or protest against leaders in Punjab. We should also be allowed to conduct our programmes like them. On Friday, they protested when BJP was organising a programme to celebrate birthday of former PM Atal Bihar Vajpayee. This is not the correct way. I feel that they are taking their aandolan in the wrong direction and miscreants are trying to take advantage of their aandolan.”
“Farmers have shown their unity in the present protest, they have shown that they can get together to create a movement in the country. This is a big victory for them. They have got many amendments done in laws. It is yet another achievement for them. Now the unions should think of the overall welfare of farmers as the government is open for discussion anytime,” Jyani said.