Why Punjab voters aren’t supporting farmer groups in the fray

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A large number of peasant organizations in Punjab who were among the spearheads of the agitation for the repeal of the Three Farm Bills have thrown their hats into the political circle. They formed the Sanyukt Samaj Morcha (SSM) to contest the elections.

The biggest organizations like Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) (Ugrahan), BKU (Dakaunda) and Kirti Kisan Union and eight others out of 32 organizations did not become members of SSM. Just as well, ironically, the Sanyukt Samaj Morcha has been able to reap dividends from farmers’ protests and remains without mass support on the ground.

However, large organizations have not stood idly by. While in principle many have asked their cadres to vote for the political party of their choice, they organize meetings asking voters to examine for themselves the reality on the ground and to understand when and how the problems of the peoples disappeared from the political narrative.

Meanwhile, protests against BJP leaders, the campaign in the state continues unabated, with farmers displaying black flags, burning effigies and waving slogans against the ruling party in the center.

Protesters are now questioning the government’s failure to deliver on promises it made in a letter to the organization on December 9, on the basis of which farmers removed morchas from Delhi’s gates.

Lawsuits against the farmers have not been withdrawn and compensation, these organizations point out, has yet to be paid to the families of those who died during the unrest. There is a lot of resentment among the peasantry over the government’s failure to move forward on the minimum support price as it has neither formed the promised committee nor advanced discussions on composition and terms of reference.

The red rag is the government’s insistence not to sack Union Minister of State Ajay Mishra Teni, whose son Ashish Mishra has been accused of mowing down farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri. The Allahabad High Court’s decision to grant bail to Ashish Mihsra has added fuel to the fire.

Farmers want the release of prisoners who have served their time in jail. “Although the issue of the release of political prisoners is raised, it is the cause of these poor prisoners that must be addressed. There are a large number of these people languishing in jails who cannot provide bail and have no resources at hand,” Narayan Dutt of Inquilabi Kendra Punjab told The Citizen in Barnala.

Farmers’ organizations are also protesting against the Punjab government for not granting the announced compensation for cotton crop loss as well as loan forgiveness. A protest against this took place in BudhLada.

Farmers’ organizations that do not contest the elections continue to question all politicians entering the villages about what they have done or plan to do for the farmers, to create jobs, to fight the threat of drugs, providing security and empowerment for women, providing free education for the masses, removing privatization, fighting inflation, getting people out of debt traps, and more.

Meanwhile, the reasons why the SSM is not gaining massive support for its electoral battles are many. It is generally accepted that while individual farmers and various organizations have come together to fight farm laws, they have always had their ideological leanings and political affiliations.

Narayan further explained, “It takes a long time for a political party to form. While the SSM has a roadmap on agriculture, it does not have the answers to other issues like education, drugs, health, employment, economy, etc. These are the areas that need to be worked on and it will take time.

There is also a movement asking the people to assess what they have gained from the current model of elections and governance. Conferences have been held in several places like Jagraon and Barnala while another is planned in Mansa.

Organizers say such events are aimed at “exposing the system” that deceives the masses.

Meanwhile, the SSM continues its fight in the political arena. On Wednesday, some former IAS, IPS and military officers affiliated with Kirti Kisan Forum (KKF) voiced their support by calling on the people of Punjab to elect SSM candidates for the benefit of the State.

They said in a statement that there is an urgent need to unite in support of the SSM in Punjab from the politicians, who have been plundering the state for many years. “All Punjabis should unite and vote against the forces that have ruined Punjab over the years,” they said.

They pointed out that with their firm faith in the democratic system, values ​​and peaceful ways of protesting, the farmers brought glory to the state by having the three controversial farm laws repealed without resorting to any violence and by leading the stirring with great sagacity for more than a year.

“Due to the historic victory at the Delhi borders, every Punjabi has held their heads high. History would never forgive us if we groped at this crucial hour of electing our representatives,” the statement added.

Supporters of the SSM said the farmers’ unrest had set new milestones across narrow social divides. It brought all sections of society together on one platform and gave them the courage to raise their voices against what they consider unfair and against the interest of the people. It has strengthened democracy and people’s confidence in peaceful means of protest while rekindling new hope among the poor and in need.

The SSM may not be making political waves, but one thing is for sure, farmers are determined to chart their own course towards their own goals.

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