SKM split wide open, two factions hold separate meetings to decide course of farmers’ movement

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The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) meeting to review the next phase of farmers’ movement to demand the guarantee of MSP saw some stormy scenes with rift between the two sides out in the open at the venue—the Gandhi Peace Foundation.

The two groups held separate meetings at the venue, one inside the main hall and one outside. The group which did not contest the recently concluded Assembly elections—union leaders Darshan Pal, Hannan Mollah, Jagjit Singh Dallewal, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Shivkumar Sharma (Kakkaji), Yudhveer Singh and Yogendra Yadav—chose to sit outside in protest against those who contested occupied the main hall, saying that “since they made their own political party, they are no longer a part of the SKM”. 

The “difference between ‘kursi’ and ‘zameen’ needs to be maintained,” Yadav said in reference to farmer leaders like Balbir Singh Rajewal who contested the Punjab elections by forming their own party. “Even during the agitation, we did not share the ‘manch’ with any political party. They (who contested the elections) can take the ‘kursi’. We are farmers and are happy to sit on the ground. Kusri aur zameen ka fasla rehna chahiye,” he said.

Rajewal claimed that “differences were there only on some issues”. “We did not sit together,” he said, adding that many (like Yadav and BKU leader Rakesh Tikait) had also “contested and lost” elections in the past. 

“They have all lost elections in the past. I was offered the post of the chief minister by AAP,” he said, adding that their group, which includes 21 farmer unions from Punjab, will continue the agitation for farmers’ rights.

In Punjab, the Sanyukt Samaj Morcha drew a blank while its CM face Rajewal, who led a year-long agitation on the borders of Delhi failed to save his security deposit.

Meanwhile, the SKM announced a nationwide campaign—MSP Legal Guarantee Week— between April 11 and 17 and a nationwide protest on March 21 on the “role of the government in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, and the betrayal of the assurances given to the farmers’ movement”.

“During this week, all constituent organisations associated with the SKM will organise dharnas, demonstrations, seminars, demanding legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price (C2+50%) as recommended by the Swaminathan Commission, to all farmers on all their agricultural produce,” the SKM said.

“After reviewing the legal process going on in the Lakhimpur Kheri case, concerns were expressed that the police administration and the prosecutors together are trying to protect the criminals and implicate the innocent farmers.”

“It is a matter of surprise that in such a serious case, the son of the Union Minister got bail so soon while the farmers implicated in the same case are still in jail.

“Even after three months, the government had not acted upon its key assurances. There is no trace of the assurance of forming a committee on MSP. Except Haryana, the police cases registered against the farmers during the agitation in other states have not been withdrawn,” SKM leaders said, also announcing the support for the Bharat Bandh called by trade unions on March 28 and 29.