Among the 11 farmer unions which have said they won’t be joining the political front formed in Punjab on Saturday, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) – the biggest in the state — said it did not want farmer issues to get entangled in vote politics.
The state president of the BKU (Ugrahan), Joginder Singh Ugrahan, and its general secretary, Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan said farmer unions should concentrate on farmer issues. They said the year-long protests leading to the repeal of the contentious farm laws had also shown that the rights and interests of farmers could not be ensured by sitting in Parliament or Assemblies but with struggle on the streets and going to the people.
Of the 11 which are staying away, nine were part of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) that spearheaded the year-long protests.
The 22 organisations that floated the political front include the BKU (Rajewal), the second biggest farmer outfit in the state and a prominent member of the SKM.
It is the second political outfit floated by a farmer union to announce it would contest the polls, after one by Gurnam Singh Chaduni.
The BKU (Ugrahan) said their battle was also only half-won, with major demands like statutory guarantee for MSP and loan waiver pending.
While it would not participate in the polls or announce support for any party, it did not mean a boycott of the elections, the BKU (Ugrahan) clarified. Its stand towards the organisations participating in the polls would depend on the position they took on farmer issues, it said.
“We consider the present electoral politics as a derailing and misleading activity… and therefore a call will be issued to maintain unity,” the leaders said, in a joint statement. They added that the decision to jump into politics had been taken by the 22 unions at their individual level and had nothing to do with the SKM.
The BKU (Darshan Pal), that is also staying out of the political front, said it would ask the people to pressurise farmer leaders to concentrate on the “andolan (struggle)” and not get caught up in politics. Darshan Pal also hit out at the new front, saying some “small” farmer organisations were drooling over “power” and aspiring to become ministers and MLAs. While participating in elections was “not a crime”, Darshan Pal said, “certainly we will not support them at all if they do alliance with any political party”.
The BKU (Krantikari), among the 11 farmer unions keeping away, earlier tweeted that it will “will not contest or support any candidate or party in the Punjab Assembly elections”.
Rajinder Singh Deepsinghwala, general secretary of the Kirti Kisan Union, said: “We will decide on December 31 about what to do next, whether to support this new morcha or not. The picture will be clear once they float their agendas.”
Jagmohan Singh Dakaunda, the general secretary of the BKU (Dakaunda), said they would also meet to decide their stand on the new political front.
The Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC), a farmer union from Majha, which is also staying away, said: “Our union has very clearly stated that if anyone wants to contest the polls, they need to resign from the KMSC. We will not be supporting any front as well. In the past, such attempts by farmer union leaders haven’t yielded good results.”
UNIONS AGAINST FIGHTING POLLS
1. Krantikari Kisan Union
2. BKU (Krantikari)
3 BKU (Sidhupur)
4. Azad Kisan Committee Doaba
5. Jai Kisan Andolan
6. Dasuha Ganna Sangharsh Committee
7. Kisan Sangharsh Committee Punjab
8. Lok Bhalai Insaaf Welfare Society
9 Kirti Kisan Union Punjab
10. Kisan Mazdoor Sangrash Committee
11. BKU (Ugrahan)