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Agriculture

SKM Turns the Heat on BJP Ahead of UP Polls, Alleges Betrayal by Modi Govt on Key Demands 

The farmers' body has alleged that the Centre has 'reneged on its assurances' and that it would be relaunching 'Mission UP' to inform voters of BJP's anti-farmer policies.

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Chandigarh: After the exodus of several ministers and MLAs, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is set to face the heat from farm unions ahead of the Uttar Pradesh polls. Expressing its dismay and anger that the Narendra Modi government at the Centre has not fulfilled any of the pending demands on the basis of which farmer movement was withdrawn on December 11, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), in its review meeting on Saturday, announced that it would resume ‘Mission UP’ against the BJP.

“It will be held on the same lines as seen during West Bengal polls. Voters will be asked to vote against the BJP for its anti-farmers policies,” key SKM member Dr Darshan Pal told The Wire soon after the SKM meeting at Singhu border near Delhi.

Dr Pal said that the SKM had no plans to resume a political campaign against BJP after it promised to fulfil all pending demands through an official letter addressed to SKM on December 9. But a month later, with the BJP making no move on these demands, he said, the SKM is being forced to relaunch Mission UP.

Also read: Back Home After Historic Protest, SKM Faces Crucial Questions on Its Political Future

He added that Mission UP would begin with a permanent morcha at Lakhimpur Kheri that would start on January 21, as it was there that four innocent farmers were mowed down in what was later confirmed by investigating agencies as a “planned conspiracy“.

But despite this, the BJP has continues to protect Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni, who is the main conspirator in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident

“On the other hand, the Uttar Pradesh police is over active in implicating and arresting farmers named in this incident. To oppose this, there will be permanent morcha under Rakesh Tikait and other SKM members,” he said

He also added that the SKM has also decided that on January 31, a ‘Day of Betrayal’ would be observed across the country and that large protest demonstrations would be organised at the district and block levels.

Pending issues and status

Key among SKM’s pending demands was the constitution of a panel to give legal sanctity to the Minimum Support Price (MSP), withdrawal of fake cases registered against farmers and compensation to families of farmers who died during the year-long protest.

Apart from it, SKM sought the withdrawal of the anti-farmers provision in the draft Electricity Amendments Bill, removal of the penal provisions on farmers for stubble burning in the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Act, 2021, besides the sacking and arrest of Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni in relation to the Lakhimpur Kheri farmers’ massacre.

SKM leaders in the press conference after the review meeting claimed that no action has been taken by the Centre in any of these matters.

While Teni continues to be a minister in the Modi government, police cases registered against farmers during farm protests stand as before in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh. In Haryana too, except some paperwork, no concrete action has been taken.

Also read: The Leaders Who Shaped, Guided and Sustained the Farmers’ Movement

SKM leaders also said that on the question of compensation, states as well as the ceentre is silent. The Uttar Pradesh government has not initiated any action on giving compensation to the martyred farmers’ families. No announcement has been made by the Haryana government regarding the amount and nature of compensation, they added.

“On the issue of MSP, the government has neither announced the formation of the committee, nor has given any information about the nature of the committee and its mandate,” read the statement released by SKM after the meeting on Saturday

It also announced that on February 23 and 24, the central trade unions of the country have called for a nationwide strike on issues like withdrawal of the four anti-labour codes, as well on issues of MSP to farmers and against privatisation. SKM will endorse and support this call in the form of a rural strike.

Farmers fighting election no longer with SKM 

SKM also declared that the several constituent organisations of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha that have decided to fight elections in Punjab are no longer a part of it. “We will review the situation again in April,” said Dr Darshan Pal.

He said the SKM has always prohibited any use of its name, banner or stage by any political party, and that it has remained non-political since the beginning and would remain so.

“SKM will treat everyone equally. This will continue and it will apply to farmers who have floated their political party,” he said.

Meanwhile, Balbir Singh Rajewal, who formed the new political party Sanyukt Samaj Manch, and Gurnam Singh Chaduni, who formed his own outfit, were not present in the meeting. Rajewal’s SSM has already declared candidates in over 10 seats and it will declare more candidates in the days to come. As many as 22 farm organisation are supporting Rajewal’s SSM.