SKM to contest Punjab assembly polls

Published on Dec 24, 2021 11:07 PM IST
It has been proposed to make Balbir Singh Rajewal the leader of the political front; there was some difference over the AAP, but the consensus has emerged on going it alone
32 farm organisations, part of the SKM, have decided that they will not back any other political party. (HT FILE PHOTO FOR REPRESENTATIVE PURPOSES ONLY)
32 farm organisations, part of the SKM, have decided that they will not back any other political party. (HT FILE PHOTO FOR REPRESENTATIVE PURPOSES ONLY)

Chandigarh Thirty-two farm organisations, part of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella body that led the year-long protest at the borders of New Delhi against the three farm laws passed by the Centre last year, have decided that they will contest Punjab assembly polls independently, and will not support any political party. The leaders of these organisations held marathon meetings over Thursday and Friday on the issue; a formal announcement is expected on Saturday.

It has been proposed to make Balbir Singh Rajewal as the leader of their political front, with another meeting expected on Saturday.

Sources claimed that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is in touch with some key leaders of the SKM, including Rajewal, and have offered him a key role in case the party forms the government after the elections. Some SKM leaders were keen to support AAP, but finally consensus emerged on going ti alone.

“We will play an active role in the upcoming polls,” said Harmeet Singh of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU (Qadian), refusing to elaborate further. According to him, leaders of different farmer bodies come from varied ideologies and have been supporting contrasting political parties in the past.

“To bring them on a common platform will take time. We are meeting again, for which venue and time will be disclosed later,” he said, adding that the SKM was proceeding democratically, with major decisions being put to vote.

BKU (Qadian) and the Rajewal-led union share common ground on the majority of issues, but on the question of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), there are differences. Rajewal is tilted towards the AAP, with the other factions not enamoured by the party.

Significantly, BKU (Ugrahan), not a part of the SKM, supported all decisions of the group during the agitation against farm laws; for now, however, it has announced that it will stay away from the political process. The Joginder Singh Ugrahan-led faction has largest support base in comparison to any other farm body.

BKU (Lakhowal) and BKU (Sidhupur) have been supporting the SAD, but have not taken a call on the polls. In the past, the Rajewal-led body has always made its stand clear only after the polls are announced.

According to another farm leader all parties are in touch with farm leaders and raising the funds needed to contest these polls was now the key issue.

BKU (Kranti Kari), Kranti Kari Kisan Union, Doaba Kisan Sangarsh Committee; Jai Kisan Andolan and BKU (Sidhupur) have announced that they will not participate in the polls.

5 acre land sought for memorial near Ludhiana

In Friday’s meeting, farm unions have also sought land from the state government to erect a memorial for the 700-odd farmers who lost their lives during the year-long agitation. On Thursday, chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi, in a meeting with SKM, had asked them to decided on a location. “We have demanded 5 acre on a state or national highway near Ludhiana,” a representative of the SKM said.

It was also decided to audit expenses and accruals that they have received as part of the agitation. According to estimates, 7 crore was received from donors, with the balance money with them estimated at around 2 crore.


    Gurpreet Singh Nibber is an Assistant Editor with the Punjab bureau. He covers politics, agriculture, power sector, environment, Sikh religious affairs and the Punjabi diaspora.

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