Panchkula violence: BJP defends CM Khattar, says situation controlled in 3 hours

New Delhi, | By
Aug 26, 2017 11:33 PM IST

BJP general secretary in-charge of Haryana said there was no truth in the speculation about the Haryana chief minister’s removal.

Pressure mounted on the BJP to remove Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar even as the ruling party put up a brave face on Saturday, maintaining that his government handled the situation “meticulously” and there was no question of his ouster.

People react during violence in Panchkula on Friday.(Reuters)
People react during violence in Panchkula on Friday.(Reuters)

At least 31 people were killed in police firing in Haryana on Friday after Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s followers went on the rampage following his conviction in two rape cases by a CBI court. Opposition parties demanded Khattar’s removal, with former Haryana CM and senior Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda demanding the imposition of President’s Rule in the state.

BJP general secretary in-charge of Haryana, Anil Jain, however, told reporters on Saturday evening that there was no truth in the speculation about the Haryana chief minister’s removal.

“As far as the violence that erupted in Panchkula is concerned, I can say that there were no lapses on the part of the government. Rather, the government handled it very meticulously,” Jain said. He said the deaths of people and damage to property were unfortunate but the government controlled the situation “within three hours with minimum possible damage”.

“We were anticipating violence even before Dera chief moved out of his ashram. But it was contained and we managed to quell the pre-arrest violence. The state government has made all attempts to ensure that the event will go peacefully but by looking at fanatic followers some trouble was expected,” Jain said.

“There is no such consideration,” he said when asked if the party was considering his removal.

BJP sources, however, told HT that although Khattar might be safe “as of today”, the party leadership was getting increasingly disenchanted with his handling of the administration that has been courting one controversy after another. Top party leaders are watching the situation in Haryana closely and a decision on whether there is a need for a change of guard will be taken “at an appropriate time”, said sources.

Former CM Hooda asked the BJP-led Haryana government to resign on “moral grounds”. BSP chief Mayawati accused the BJP government of providing patronage to violent followers of the cult as it did when the then UP government allowed kar sewaks to demolish the Babri Masjid.

“The Khattar government should be immediately dismissed for its absolute laxity and involvement leading to large-scale violence after the conviction of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief on rape charges,” Mayawati said in a statement in Lucknow. The CPI and the CPI(M) also demanded the dismissal of the Khattar government for dereliction of duty.

The BJP’s ideological mentor, the RSS, too, has given the party a carte blanche to take a call on Khattar’s continuation. Sources in the RSS said while state unit representatives have reached out to Dera supporters to maintain calm ahead of Monday’s sentencing, the Sangh will not interfere in any decision taken by the party leadership against Khattar, a veteran RSS swayamsevak.

“The Sangh will let the party brass take a call. They will not oppose any decision, even though Khattar has been a former pracharak,” a source told HT.

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    Smriti covers an intersection of politics and governance. Having spent over a decade in journalism, she combines old fashioned leg work with modern story telling tools.

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