Panchkula firing: Demand for relief to kin of dera victims a shrewd move of Khattar govt to build consensus
BJP sources say Vij was fielded to pitch this demand publicly as a part of the well-thought out plan to kickstart the debate and bring on board the naysayers.india Updated: Sep 23, 2017 11:03 IST
Haryana health minister Anil Vij’s demand that the kin of Dera Sacha Sauda followers killed during the Panchkula violence deserve compensation is a shrewd step of the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government to build consensus on this contentious issue.
By bouncing this proposition publicly, it’s a desperate attempt of the state government to assuage the ruffled feelings of dera followers whose support helped the BJP in forming the government in October 2014. Until Thursday, the issue whether to give compensation to the kin of Dera followers killed in the police firing during the August 25 violence that broke out at Panchkula after Dera chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh was convicted in twin rape case, was being hotly debated within the government.
Any compensation (to kin of Dera Sacha Sauda followers killed during the Panchkula violence) will be given only as per court orders.
It was for the first time on Thursday when Vij publicly made the demand for compensation. His contention was that the families of those killed in the Jat quota agitation last year were given Rs 10-lakh compensation each.
“There have been precedents in the state when compensation was given to those killed in the firing. Why to have different yardsticks? Deaths were unfortunate on both the occasions,” he said.
BJP sources say Vij was fielded to pitch this demand publicly as a part of the well-thought out plan to kickstart the debate and bring on board the naysayers.
CM breaks silence, Hooda too bats for relief
And on Friday, the otherwise nonchalant chief minister Khattar didn’t duck this issue. Instead, he decided to break his studied silence. “Any compensation will be given only as per court orders,” Khattar told reporters at Panchkula after visiting Mansa devi shrine.
Khattar made it clear that the court had issued directions that the damage caused during the violence be compensated from the Dera property and that the matter was under consideration of the court.
While Khattar deflected Vij’s demand towards the high court, former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda backed the “adequate compensation” demand even as he slammed the Khattar government for repeating Jat agitation-like failure. “There were supporters who were fooled into going to Panchkula and did not know the reality of Ram Rahim,” Hooda said.
“The government committed a huge blunder by letting Dera followers gather in large number. Now it is the duty of the government to compensate those who lost their breadwinners.”
Reservations within cabinet
There are considerable reservations within the Haryana cabinet over the political craft of Khattar, the stiff-necked RSS pracharak-turned-chief minister, in dealing with the delicates issues, including the Dera Sacha Sauda episode.
Party leaders feel Khattar blundered in several areas from the beginning. For instance, Khattar did not consult cabinet colleagues nor did he keep them posted about the ground situation.
The baba episode has divided the Khattar’s cabinet comprising nine cabinet ministers, including CM, and five ministers of state. The BJP has 47 MLAs in the 90-member Haryana Vidhan Sabha. Sources say Khattar did not call a cabinet meeting to discuss and devise the strategy and to keep his council of ministers in the loop in the run-up to August 25 court verdict in the rape case against ram Rahim.
The baba episode has divided the Khattar’s cabinet comprising nine cabinet ministers, including CM, and five ministers of state.
“However, on August 23 Khattar invited certain key ministers at his residence and apprised them of the dera developments.
On August 29, the cabinet met informally where the CM defended his actions,” a source in the cabinet said, indicating that signals emanating from Delhi also silenced the Khattar-baiters.
Sources say a section of ministers had begun raising the compensation demand after the August 25 violence during informal and formal cabinet meetings. This issue was again discussed on Wednesday’s informal cabinet meeting. Certain ministers are critical about what they describe as “brutal abuse of force” by the security forces against “unarmed Dera followers”.
“There is a general feeling within the government that Khattar deserves the blame for Panchkula build-up and then using bullets to silence the protesters,” said a cabinet minister, requesting anonymity.
Though the government seems to be recovering from the initial shocks of the dera episode, the compensation issue is a yet another test of Khattar’s political craft.