A simple proclamation removed the hurdles in the way of BJP president Amit Shah’s ‘Yuva Hunkar Rally’ of one lakh bikes in Haryana’s Jind on Thursday, Feb 15, to launch the party’s campaign for 2019 when both Lok Sabha and state assembly elections are due.
One hurdle was the notice from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to Manoharlal Khattar-led BJP government in Haryana seeking response to a plea expressing concern over the problems of pollution, aggravated by traffic jams, that one-lakh two-wheelers would create in the area falling under National Capital Region (NCR) with its serious air-pollution problem. The NGT had sought responses from the Centre and Haryana government in connection with a plea seeking a reduction in the number of bikes at Shah’s rally in Jind, on pollution grounds.
The NGT was informed by the state council that as the rally had already begun, any pleas against it do not stand ground. The state government assured the NGT that only motorcycles with valid Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificates will be allowed in the rally. The NGT had said that it will keep a close watch on the rally. That was it.
The second hurdle was the threat from Akhil Bhartiya Jat Andolan Sangharsh Samiti (ABJASS) to disrupt the BJP rally unless the state government conceded their demand for withdrawal of rioting and arson cases against Jat youths, reservation for Jats in central government jobs, and compensation as well as a government job for the family of “Jat youths, who were shot and killed by the Haryana Police during the protests”.
The Khattar government removed both hurdles by simply saying that BJP president Amit Shah‘s one-lakh bike rally isn’t going to cause pollution and there would be no cases, including those of murder, rape or arson that occurred during Feb 2016 Jat agitation.
Problems removed, the bike rally started. Khattar flagged off a convoy of bikers from his constituency of Karnal and reached the venue riding a bike himself. The bike rally resulted in traffic jams across Karnal, reported The Hindustan Times. Long queues of bikers could be seen at fuel pumps to get the promised free fuel worth Rs 200 per bike. Besides food packets, bikers were also given a saffron helmet and jackets, said the HT report.
Meanwhile, police held state Congress chief Ashok Tanwar. He was going to show black flags to Shah.
Amit Shah arrived in Jind for bike rally, riding pillion to venue amid full security. The rally was on.
Some media reports suggested there was some doubt whether Khattar was able to solve the problems or only put them off till after his boss’s rally.
On the issue of pollution, the NGT was informed by the state council that as the rally had already begun, any pleas against it do not stand ground. The state government assured the NGT that only motorcycles with valid Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificates will be allowed in the rally. The NGT had said that it will keep a close watch on the rally. That was it.
As for the trouble from Jats, ABJASS decided to call off its proposed blockade of the bike rally after meeting Manoharlal Khattar and senior BJP Jat leader, Chaudhary Birender Singh, on Monday. Jat activists claim they will launch a fresh agitation ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls if the state government decided to renege on its promises, reported News18.
ABJASS president Yashpal Malik said, “We had a three-point demand from the state government. The first one was that the state government withdraw all cases of rioting and arson in which Jat youths have been falsely implicated. After we announced the protest against Amit Shah’s rally, the state government hurriedly withdrew 70 cases against Jat youths. However, there are more than 300 cases that still stand. These must all be taken back.”
Malik further added, “The second demand, is something we’ve long been asking for – reservations for Jats in central government jobs. Our protest for this demand has been going on for the last two years. Third, family members of all Jat youths, who were shot and killed by Haryana Police during the protests, should be given compensation and a government job.”
“In return, the state government asked us for only one thing – that we withdraw our protest against the Amit Shah rally on Thursday,” said Malik.
According to Malik, the state government hasn’t been specific about an exact timeline within which all their demands will be met. Malik said, “They haven’t given us an exact timeline but we expect all these demands to be met within a month or so. If this does not happen, we will resume the movement. The BJP should not forget that the 2019 Lok Sabha elections are fast approaching. If they do not keep their promise, we will make sure that not even Narendra Modi himself can hold a rally in Haryana.”