With union ministers attributing ideological opposition to the farm protests and equating some of them with “Left and Naxal elements,” as many as 32 farmer unions passed a resolution Saturday making it clear that their only issue is the repeal of farm laws and nothing else.
Carefully calibrating their distancing from the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), the joint resolution said: “The function organised by BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) has no relation with the farmers’ struggle. Their action has harmed the farmers’ struggle.” BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) and the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC) are not part of this group of 32.
This prompted several Union ministers including Piyush Goyal, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Narendra Singh Tomar over the last two days to state that “Leftist and Maoist elements” have infiltrated the protests seeking to derail the government’s “reformist farm laws.”
Buta Singh Burjgill, President, BKU (Dakaunda), who presided over the meeting of the 32 farmer organisations on December 11, said, “Human rights is a big issue for us as well but here this joint struggle is only against the laws formed by the Central government i..e the three farm laws, the Ordinance related to environment and the proposed Electricity Bill, 2020.”
The Indian Express spoke with leaders of at least two dozen farmer organisations over the weekend and the consensus was clear: their demand that the three farm laws be repealed and the government start “with a clean slate.” When asked about the Government’s proposed amendments, they said that these could be overturned later. At the heart of their protest is the demand to legalise Minimum Support Price in the farm laws, a provision that no government has followed and which, the government said, has several distortionary effects.
When contacted, Ruldu Singh Mansa, President, Punjab Kisan Union, who is part of the joint forum said, “I believe the ongoing farm struggle has become a movement, and our focus should be only on farm laws, Electricity Bill and the Ordinance on environment. If one farmer union has organised a program, it is its individual and personal decision.” He, however, said if the government tried to target the Ugrahan group, the Punjab Kisan Union will support them.
Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, President of Kisan Sangharsh Committee, Punjab said, “All our 32 farmer organisations have nothing to do with it. But I believe that the ongoing struggle should be only about farm laws.”
Stating that the function organised by Joginder Singh Ugrahan-led BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) had hurt the cause of farmers, Harmeet Singh, President of BKU (Qadian), said, “Our union has only one issue, and that is farm laws. Our 32 farm unions have clarified that their struggle is only about farm laws and nothing else.”
Rajinder Singh, General Secretary, Krantikari Kisan Union, also supported the resolution passed by the joint forum. “This agitation is only for farm laws, the electricity bill and the Ordinance on environment,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, General Secretary of BKU (Ugrahan) said: “We don’t want to comment on any statement given by any of the farm organisations. We organise Human Rights Day every year and this year it was no different. Our main issue, too, is farm laws and we had connected the human rights issue with farm laws as everyone has a democratic right to protest and put across his or her view point.”