The opposition within the NDA against the farm laws is growing. After the Shiromani Akali Dal, another NDA ally, Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP), quit the alliance on Saturday.
RLP national convenor and Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal made the announcement to sever ties with the NDA at Shahjahanpur on the Rajasthan-Haryana border where he reached along with 6000-7000 farmers.
Addressing the gathering, Beniwal said, “Nothing is more important to me than the dignity of farmers. Their honour is my strength. The government is not ready to withdraw the three anti-farmer farm laws so I am quitting the NDA.”
He warned the government not to play with fire. “Any government who has dared to go against farmers has been dethroned. Why didn’t the government consult farmers before bringing in the laws? These laws will lead to the rule of land mafias,” he said
Beniwal also ruled out any the possibility of an alliance with the Congress.
In September, union minister and Shiromani Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Kaur had resigned from the cabinet and after that the SAD, BJP’s ally in Punjab, had walked out of the alliance opposing the farm laws.
Beniwal said the farmers would stay put in Shahjahanpur till their next strategy is finalised. He and his supporters have pitched their tents about 1 km from other farmer groups that have been sitting on a protest at Shahjahapur since the last two weeks after being stopped by Haryana police from moving to Delhi.
On December 19, Beniwal had resigned from three parliamentary committees in support of the farmers’ agitation.
On November 30, Beniwal had threatened to quit the alliance if the farm laws were not withdrawn.Beniwal had written to union home minister Amit Shah asking that the government withdraw the laws.
Beniwal had formed an alliance with the BJP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP had given the Nagaur seat to Beniwal who won on his party ticket. The RLP also has three MLAs in the 200 member state assembly while the BJP has 71 MLAs.
Beniwal is a former BJP MLA who was suspended from the party after he criticised former chief minister Vasundhara Raje.
Analysts say Beniwal’s moves are driven by political considerations. Beniwal belongs to the Jat community, a majority of whom are farmers. Beniwal’s stronghold too is in the Jat dominated areas of western Rajasthan.
Beniwal is keen to establish a pan-Rajasthan presence before the 2023 assembly elections in the state and severing ties was a strategic move. He has said several times that BJP wants RLP to merge with the BJP but he has staunchly opposed that as he wants to keep his separate identity.