SKM suspends farmer leader over remarks on Punjab polls; issues ‘peoples’ whip’ for MPs

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By PTI

CHANDIGARH: The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) on Wednesday suspended Haryana BKU leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni for seven days for suggesting that Punjab farmer outfits involved in the stir against the Centre’s three farm laws should contest the state assembly polls next year.

The SKM, which is an umbrella body of various farmer unions protesting the Centre’s farm laws, also said that it will go ahead with its planned protests in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, where assembly elections are due to be held in 2022.

Addressing a press conference near the Singhu border protest site, senior SKM leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said Chaduni is making statements regarding “Mission Punjab” despite being told not to do so on several occasions.

“At present, we are fighting (against the Centre’s farm laws). We are not doing any politics,” said Rajewal.

“For this, today we decided to suspend him for seven days. He will not be able to issue any statement or share stage. These restrictions have been imposed on him,” said Rajewal, who is also the president of the BKU (Rajewal).

Chaduni, however, stuck to his statement and said that suspending him for mooting an idea was wrong.

At the same time, the farmer leader said he will abide by the SKM’s decision and continue to play a key role in the ongoing stir against farm laws.

Replying to queries, Rajewal said Chaduni had been telling farmer unions leaders in Punjab to take the political route.

“We had been telling him that we have no such programme. Later, the Punjab leaders complained about his statements and on Tuesday a meeting was held.

Today, the general house (of the Morcha) suspended him for seven days,” he said.

A week ago, Chaduni had said that the outfits from Punjab involved in agitation against the new agriculture laws should contest the Punjab Assembly elections as it will “present a model on how the system can be changed”.

After Chaduni had suggested the “Mission Punjab” idea on the lines of ” Mission UP” planned by the SKM, several BJP leaders from Haryana and Punjab had targeted those leading the farmers’ stir, saying that it was now clear that the agitating unions were driven by political motives.

The SKM has planned a ”mahapanchayat” in September and other activities in Uttar Pradesh.

Reacting to his suspension, Chaduni said, “I had mooted an idea– Mission Punjab. No one can stop one from expressing a thought or mooting an idea. One can differ with that. But suspending anyone on this ground is wrong.”

“Still, the decision they have taken, I have no problem with it. But my stand is still the same that we should run Mission Punjab,” Chaduni, who had last week led a big group of farmers from Gurdaspur in Punjab to Singhu border protest site, said.

“In Punjab, the protesters (those against farm laws), honest people, labourers, farmers and small shopkeepers should form their own government and defeat traditional parties.

“And by doing so present it as a model before the country. Today, we don’t need to change the rule from one party to another, but we have to change the system. And the system can be changed with power,” he said in a video message while reacting to his suspension.

Chaduni also said that he will continue to play a key role in the ongoing farmers’ agitation.

He said that the government should not think that there is any kind of division among the farmer unions and asserted that the stir was going strong.

Meanwhile, announcing their strategy over the next few months, Rajewal said their next move would be “Mission UP and Uttarakhand”.

“Our next target is to strengthen our agitation in Uttarakhand and UP. From August 1-25, we will be holding meetings across districts. On September 5, there will be a ‘mahapanchayat’ in Muzaffarnagar,” he said.

Rajewal on Wednesday said the umbrella body of farmers’ unions has issued a ‘peoples’ whip’ to all MPs to demand scrapping of farm laws and a legal guarantee on MSP in parliament during the monsoon session.

The agitating farmers said their planned protests at the Parliament from July 22 till the end of the monsoon session will be peaceful.

Asserting that their next target is to strengthen the stir in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, the protesters said meetings will be held in districts of these two states from August 1 to 25 followed by a ‘mahapanchayat’ in Muzaffarnagar on September 5.

At a press conference, Rajewal said the SKM has issued a ‘peoples’ whip’ that will be served on all MPs of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

“The People’s Whip directed the MPs to raise the demands of the agitating farmers — repeal of the three black farm laws and a legal guarantee of receiving minimum support price (MSP) — in both Houses of Parliament and not allow either House to do any business till the union government gives assures of acceding to the demands,” he said.

This will be complemented by farmers’ protests outside the parliament, Rajewal said, adding, “MPs and MLAs will raise the issue within the parliament and the farmers will raise it outside.”

While the farm leaders did not comment on whether they have received permission to hold demonstrations outside the Parliament, they maintained that the protests will be “peaceful”.

“Every day from July 22 till the end of the monsoon session, 200 farmers will protest outside the parliament.

If the government gets us arrested, it will, and if it does not, we will return to the borders in the evening only to go back the next day again,” another leader said.

The leaders also urged their fellow protestors, particularly those who would be demonstrating at the parliament, to submit their identification details, including photographs and Aadhar cards to ensure a “peaceful protest”.

A tractor parade in Delhi on January 26, that was to highlight the demands of farmer unions to repeal three new agri laws, had dissolved into anarchy on the streets of the national capital as thousands of protesters broke through barriers, fought with the police, overturned vehicles and hoisted a religious flag from the ramparts of the iconic Red Fort.

“We have asked the protestors for their details. If there is any wrongdoing on the part of any farmer, they will be punished accordingly,” a farmer leader told the press conference.

According to an SKM statement, a special protest march outside parliament exclusively by women farmer leaders and volunteers will be organised on July 26 and August 9.

“Women farmers have been at the forefront of this long and historic struggle of farmers for their livelihood and future. The special marches on these two days shall highlight the unique and memorable role that women have played,” it said.



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