Haryana CM withdraws ‘tit for tat’ remark in the ‘interest of peace’

Manohar Lal Khattar said his recent remarks while addressing BJP Kisan Morcha workers were not made with a malicious intent but were aimed at self-defence
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Panchkula MLA and Speaker Gian Chand Gupta performing a havan at the Mata Mansa Devi temple in Panchkula on Friday. (Sant Arora/HT)
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Panchkula MLA and Speaker Gian Chand Gupta performing a havan at the Mata Mansa Devi temple in Panchkula on Friday. (Sant Arora/HT)
Updated on Oct 08, 2021 03:09 PM IST
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ByHT Correspondent

Faced with widespread criticism over his “pick up sticks” call during a recent address to BJP Kisan Morcha workers, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Friday said that he was withdrawing the controversial remarks in the interest of peace.

Khattar, who sounded apologetic, told journalists in Panchkula that his remarks were not made with a malicious intent but were aimed at self-defence.

Also read: ‘Not satisfied with UP govt probe in Lakhimpur Kheri case’: Supreme Court

“Farmers have been hurt by this comment. Hence, I withdraw this comment as I don’t want a law and order situation, disturbing the peace of the state. Everyone has a right to protest peacefully,” the chief minister said after paying obeisance at Mata Mansa Devi temple on the second day of the Navratri festival.

Khattar had on Sunday asked the party’s Kisan Morcha workers to raise groups of farmer volunteers in the state’s northern and north-western districts who can “pick up sticks”.

Controversial remarks widely shared on social media

The controversial remarks seen in a video were widely shared on social media platforms and evoked much criticism.

The reference was evidently aimed at the protesting farmers who have been chasing the ruling BJP-JJP leaders and disrupting their visits and events. “We will have to encourage upcoming farmer groups...in every district, particularly the northern and northwestern districts, we will have to raise groups of 500-700 kisan volunteers... And then sathe shathyam samacharet (tit-for-tat). Pick up sticks,” Khattar was seen telling he workers in the video.

Responding to a remark by a person in the gathering (which was not audible), Khattar told the gathering not to worry about jamanat (bail) after picking up the sticks. “If you spend a couple of months...you will become a leader. You will learn much more than these meetings and become a tall leader. Your name will get etched in history,” he said in a reference to doing time in jail.

CM’s remarks shown selectively: Official

A government official said that the chief minister’s remarks were shown selectively in the video. “The video lacked perspective and is misleading. It was an internal meeting of the party workers. The CM told them to oppose wrong actions but by maintaining discipline. In fact, the CM told the party workers to maintain discipline and not to take law in their hands,” said an official.

Former BJP MLA Sukhwinder Sheoran, who was present at the BJP Kisan Morcha meeting at Khattar’s house on Sunday, said that the remarks regarding raising kisan volunteers were only aimed at countering the propaganda about the three central farm laws.

Opposition quick to target CM

The remarks drew criticism from the opposition parties. Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala, in a tweet, said that rule of law cannot be maintained in the state if the CM himself speaks about inciting violence and breaking law and order. “The anti-farmer face of the BJP stands exposed. It’s time to get rid of this government,” Surjewala tweeted.

The fresh controversy with the “sticks” remark has come after an IAS officer posted as Karnal SDM was, in August, seen telling cops to hit the farmers on the head if they try to disrupt a BJP event. The remark and a police lathicharge at a toll plaza in Karnal fuelled protests by farmer unions. The farmers relented after the government set up a commission to probe the incident.

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