Sharp division among farmers’ unions over whether to enter electoral politics in view of polls next year

Some farmers’ leaders feel that if they contest polls, they can win over 30 seats in western UP, making them a force to reckon with. But another section is in favour of movement remaining apolitical

Farmers during Kisan Sansad at Jantar Mantar
Farmers during Kisan Sansad at Jantar Mantar

NH Correspondent/Lucknow

When Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) chief Rakesh Tikait declared that Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand would be farmers’ ‘karma bhoomi’ for the next few months in view of assembly elections due in these two states next year, voices have started emerging suggesting that leaders of the farmers’ unions should themselves contest elections.

“A section of farmers believe that this is the right time for the farmers’ unions to enter electoral politics. The issue was discussed in a closed door meeting in Lucknow which was attended by senior leaders of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM),” Mandeep Singh, a senior farmers’ leader, told this reporter.

Such a possibility was first articulated by BKU leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni, one of the prominent faces of the ongoing farmers’ agitation, who had wondered publicly if the time was ripe for farmers’ unions to give up their apolitical stand and formally enter electoral politics to better serve the interests of the community they represent.

He had said that when political parties had failed to protect farmers’ interests, it is the right time for the farmers’ unions to fight elections to ensure that ‘pro-farmer’ people get elected.

Mandeep Singh pointed out said that another senior leader, Yogendra Yadav wrote an article in The Print headlined, “Farmers’ movement can’t and shouldn’t be apolitical. That’s not a democracy”.

“In that write up he has claimed that the farmers’ agitation against the three farm laws is not apolitical. This shows that there is consternation among members of the farmers’ unions about projecting the agitation as an apolitical movement,” he said.

A section of the farmers feel that if their leaders contest elections, the unions can win more than 30 seats in western UP, making them a force to reckon with.

But another section feels that farmers should stay away from contesting elections.

“Our agitation is apolitical and will remain so. Our strategy would be the same as what we did in previous elections of West Bengal, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. We will campaign against the BJP. We will ask the voters not to vote for the BJP but will not suggest to the voters as to whom to vote for. We will leave it to the wisdom of the voters,” Dharmendra Mallik, national media in-charge of BKU, said.

He said in UP also, the BKU and SKM would campaign against BJP.

“We are andolankari (agitationists) and love to remain so. We will stay away from active politics but will continue our fight against three farm laws,” he said.

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