Manohar Lal Khattar, the Chief Minister of Haryana, has been facing discontent in rural areas, leading him to conduct an outreach program across the state since April. However, the situation has become worrisome for Khattar as some members of his own Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and even their ally, the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), have backed the ongoing protest by wrestlers.
The wrestlers have been protesting at Jantar Mantar in Delhi since April 23, demanding the arrest of BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. They are set to join various groups in Haryana, including farmers’ unions and khap panchayats, in a mahapanchayat (grand assembly) outside the new Parliament building in Delhi on the same day as its grand inauguration.
The wrestlers’ protest has garnered significant support, with prominent athletes like Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat actively seeking support for the mahapanchayat. They criticize the lack of action against Brij Bhushan and view the protest as a fight for the honor of the Indian Tricolour.
While the BJP prepares for the grand inauguration of the new Parliament building, the mahapanchayat poses a public relations challenge for the party, especially with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence at the event. The BJP has been feeling the heat in Haryana, prompting Chief Minister Khattar to engage in public connect programs to address rural grievances and civic issues.
Khattar’s efforts, however, have been further complicated by the wrestlers’ protest, which has gained support from opposition parties, khap panchayats, and some members of the BJP and JJP. The response to the mahapanchayat will be closely observed as it may impact the political landscape in Haryana.