Varun writes to PM seeking 'strict action' against Ajay Mishra Teni
BJP parliamentarian Varun Gandhi on Saturday wrote to the Prime Minister seeking “strict action” against Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni, embroiled in the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre, piling political pressure a day after the capitulation over the farm laws dented Narendra Modi’s strongman image.
Although Varun has been on a rebellious path over the farmers’ movement for some time now and there have been murmurs that he could jump ship, the letter appeared to be an after-effect of Modi’s decision to withdraw the controversial farm laws.
The Lok Sabha MP from Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh posted the letter, written in both Hindi and English, on Twitter. It hailed Modi for his “large-heartedness” and welcomed the move but at the same time sought to rub in a message by pointing out that many “innocent lives” would have been saved had the decision been taken earlier.
I welcome the announcement of the withdrawal of the 3 #FarmLaws. It is my humble request that the demand for a law on MSP & other issues must also be decided upon immediately, so our farmers can return home after ending their agitation.— Varun Gandhi (@varungandhi80) November 20, 2021
My letter to the Hon’ble Prime Minister: pic.twitter.com/6eh3C6Kwsz
“The heartbreaking incident (in Lakhimpur) is a blemish on our democracy. It is my request to you that appropriately strict action is taken against the Union minister who has been connected to this incident, so that there is a fair enquiry,” Varun wrote, joining the Opposition’s demand to remove junior home minister Mishra.
Varun said the October 3 incident in Lakhimpur Kheri in which four farmers returning from a protest were crushed to death by a car owned by Mishra was the result of the “provocative” statements of BJP leaders.
The minister’s son, Ashis, is in custody over the carnage. The allegation is that Ashis was in the Thar jeep that mowed down the farmers and a journalist. Minister Mishra had threatened protesting farmers publicly from a stage days before the incident.
The BJP and the Modi government, however, have not taken any action against Mishra, ostensibly because he is an influential regional Brahmin leader. The BJP fears that dropping him could anger Brahmin voters in the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls next year. Mishra recently shared a stage with Union home minister Amit Shah.
Varun appears to be taking advantage of the weakness Modi and the BJP have betrayed through the decision to cancel the three farm laws, and is intensifying the political attack before the elections.
It is believed that Varun chose dissidence after being pushed to the margins under the current BJP regime and is now toying with the idea of quitting the party. On Saturday he seemed to have timed his letter with that of cousin Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who too dashed off a letter to the Prime Minister over the farmers’ movement with some identical demands.
Seeking to project himself as a champion of farmers, the BJP parliamentarian backed the other primary demand of the farmers: a legally guaranteed minimum support price for every farm produce.
“This movement will not end without the resolution of this demand and there will be widespread anger among them, which will continue to emerge in one form or the other,” Varun wrote.
Going further, he urged Modi to extend condolences to the families of the farmers who lost their lives during the yearlong movement, and sanction a compensation of Rs 1 crore for the family of each of the deceased.
While announcing the intent to withdraw the farm laws, Modi had not expressed condolences over the deaths of farmers during the protracted protests. The farm unions have said that more than 700 farmers have died.
“It is my humble request to you that while expressing condolences towards the farmer brothers and sisters who were martyred in the movement, a compensation of Rs 1 crore each be announced for them,” Varun wrote, adding that the “false FIRs” registered against peasants during the movement should be withdrawn.
Although the BJP has been trying to project the repeal decision as a “statesmanlike” move adopted in the “national interest”, politically it is being seen as the first major instance of Modi bowing before pressure.
Internally, the BJP is planning to re-launch its attack if the farmers do not end their protest despite the repeal promise.