The new political party, Samyukt Samaj Morcha, which could team up with the Aam Aadmi party (AAP), is expected to contest the 117 seats in the Punjab’s February-March legislative elections.
In a very important development before the Punjab Assembly elections, 22 farmers’ unions, who had participated in the agitation of agricultural laws under the banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), are all set to enter the scene very volatile state policy.
This new political party ‘Samyukt Samaj Morcha’ is led by senior SKM member Balbir Singh Rajewa, one of the main leaders of the 32 farmers’ unions who gathered last year to protest against the agricultural laws of the Center.
Samyukt Samaj Morcha, which could team up with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), is expected to contest the 117 seats in the February-March elections to the Punjabi Assembly. However, the SKM distanced itself from the party and said its name should not be used in the election campaign, media said.
Harmeet Singh Kadian, the leader of the Union Bharatiya Kisan (Kadian) faction told the media that they decided to start a party after much pressure from the public. The Punjab faces many issues such as drugs, unemployment and youth migration from the state which they want to address, he said.
Kadian said SKM, a coordinating body of different groups, won the agitation against farm laws. But, when they returned home, they were pressured to join politics, as they felt that if they could have won this battle, they could also win the election, Kadian said, according to press articles.
Meanwhile, farmer leader BS Rajewal also said they were under pressure to fight the polls. âWe will speak to like-minded people who are Punjab sympathizers,â he said.
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The party had to be strengthened at the village level, Rajewal said, adding that the Aam (the people) log will be part of the Samyukt Samaj Morcha. He denied, however, that they linked to the AAP and dismissed it as mere media speculation.
The announcement that farmers would enter the political arena came after the SKM completely ruled out any possibility for them to contest an election at that time. The SKM is more of a “platform of over 400 different ideological organizations” and there was no consensus among all of the different organizations. Therefore, they would not dispute the polls, the SKM said.
Other farmers’ unions such as Kirti Kisan Union, Krantikari Kisan Union, BKU-Krantikari, Doaba Sangharsh Committee, BKU-Sidhupur, Kisan Sangharsh Committee and Jai Kisan Andolan are opposed to joining the electoral fray.
State elections will be held in Punjab (and four other states, including the UP) in February-March. The political parties have gone out of their way to woo the farmers as their votes are seen as crucial to the fate of the ruling parties in these two states.
Last month, even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to capitulate after a year-long struggle by farmers and did an about-face by agreeing to repeal the three offensive farm laws. And that came after his party and he attacked them relentlessly for being “anti-national”. His grand gesture was seen as a gesture to convince farmers ahead of the UP and Punjab state assembly elections.