Former Haryana chief minister and Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda spoke to Hindustan Timesabout the ongoing farm agitation and his demand of bringing a no-confidence motion against the state government in the assembly. Edited excerpts:
What do you think will be the impact of these protests by the farmers?
Before this, there were just the Agricultural Produce Market Committe (APMC) markets. Now there are two — APMC market committee yards, and open market. The government may insist it will continue to give minimum support prices (MSP), but outside APMC, there is no MSP. This is the main concern of farmers. In August 2007, my government made rules under the APMC Act that no one could purchase less than the MSP prices. For crops which are outside MSP, it could be at prevailing market rate. This is the main concern of farmers.
The farmers want repeal of the laws. The government doesn’t want to do that. How do you think the issue will get resolved?
The government should just agree. It is a genuine demand and apprehension that they (farmers) may be exploited by corporates. When the crops come, the rates will be cheap, as there may be hoarding.
There is no limit for hoarding now, even for essential commodities. If they are free to hoard, prices will rise according to demand and supply. I think it needs a fourth law that anyone who purchases less than MSP should be punished by law.
The government says farmers are being misled, and that the protests are only in your state and in Punjab.
That is not true. Even in other states, farmers are protesting as they are worried about MSP. They are coming to protest from Rajasthan, from western UP, and no political parties are participating in it. Farmers are leading the protests, but we support their demand.
What do you think will be the fallout of this in Haryana? Do you think the BJP-JJP government is in trouble?
That’s why the Congress is asking the Governor to call an urgent assembly session. We will be bringing in a no-confidence motion against this government as this government has totally failed to handle this situation. They are not even supporting people coming to Delhi. They have no right to stop them from coming to the Capital of the country. During this corona period, for them to use water cannons or tear gas on farmers, that isn’t correct. One of the Haryana ministers said the protests are foreign funded. This is an insult to farmers and the country.
Are there people in the Jannayak Janata Party who are very unhappy about what’s happening?
That’s why we are planning to bring no-confidence vote. We want to expose their double talk – on one hand supporting the government and on the other, they are issuing statements for farmers. The two independent MLAs have already withdrawn support from the government, so the government has lost the confidence of the assembly.
Has there been any contact, any discussion between you and Dushyant Chautala or anyone in Chautala family?
No. There are other MLAs also feeling upset, and they talk, but no conversation with Mr Chautala. When this government was formed in Haryana, I said ‘vote kisi ko, support kisi ko (that means vote for someone, support to someone else)’. That has come true now.
You managed a win in the bypoll of Baroda constituency at a time when your party did badly in Gujarat, MP and of course, Bihar. Is there something you are doing differently?
That was a type of referendum against the state government. That’s why I say that the government has lost credibility.
Last question. You are one of the 23 signatories to a letter to the Congress president. Have your concerns been addressed?
I don’t discuss internal matters of the party in public or the press.