RLP convenor Hanuman Beniwal announces split from NDA over farm laws

Beniwal had announced a march to Delhi in support of farmers organisations holding a protest against the contentious laws.

Miffed with the Bharatiya Janta Party over its “obstinate stance” on the agriculture sector laws, the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP), a constituent of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) from Rajasthan, on Saturday withdrew its support to the BJP-led government at the Centre. The RLP has one seat in the Lok Sabha and three members in the State Assembly.

RLP supremo and Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal announced the decision to quit NDA at a massive rally of farmers at Shahjahanpur, near the Rajasthan-Haryana border, while alleging that his party’s voice was not being heard in Delhi and the NDA government was mishandling the farmers’ agitation.

The RLP is the second ally of the BJP, after the Shiromani Akali Dal, to break off its ties with the ruling party at the Centre over the three farm laws being opposed by large sections of agriculturists. Mr. Beniwal had resigned from three Parliamentary committees last week after extending support to the ongoing agitation of farmers.

“The self-respect of farmers is the strength of my party… I am not glued to the NDA with Fevicol. Today, I am breaking away from this alliance,” Mr. Beniwal announced while addressing the farmers who had gathered on Jaipur-Delhi highway near the border on his call to join a march to the national capital. The Haryana Police had sealed the highway on Friday to stop the farmers.

Mr. Beniwal said the farm Bills were passed in his absence, when he was kept out of Lok Sabha on the pretext of COVID-19 infection. “Had I been present [in the House], I would have torn the Bills apart and thrown them away,” he said.

The RLP MP also said he was not going to join any alliance led by Congress after quitting the NDA and added that his party would contest the upcoming by-elections to three Assembly seats in the State on its own. After the meeting, Mr. Beniwal joined a night-long ‘paraav’ (stay) of his supporters at some distance from the site where the Samyuka Kisan Morcha has been staging a protest since December 12.

Mr. Beniwal had recently written a letter to Home Minister Amit Shah, in his capacity as the NDA chairperson, demanding immediate action to withdraw the legislations. He had described it as his “last warning” to the BJP, after making some strong remarks on the subject through social media.

Mr. Beniwal – a former BJP MLA and a vocal critic of former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje – had formed the RLP in 2018 with the support of Jats, who constitute a politically powerful community in more than a dozen Lok Sabha constituencies in the State. The BJP entered into an alliance with the RLP in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, when Mr. Beniwal was fielded and won from the Nagaur seat.

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