SKM undergoes another split, with BKU (Chaduni) snapping ties over ‘political differences’
Shiv Kumar Kakka and Jagjit Singh Dalewal recently walked away from the conglomerate of farmers’ groups across India which led a massive struggle against the three farm laws, leading to their repeal
Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the conglomerate of farmers’ groups across India which led a year-long struggle against the three farm laws – which forced the Modi government to repeal the laws – is facing a third major split, National Herald has learnt.
After two core committee members Shiv Kumar Kakka and Jagjit Singh Dalewal snapped ties with SKM recently, head of BKU (Chaduni), Gurnam Singh Chaduni, too is said to have walked away. Though a formal announcement has not been made and the SKM leadership downplayed the issue, observers say the split has already taken place.
On July 31, SKM activists and leaders staged a nationwide protest against the Modi government, but the Chaduni group, which enjoys considerable support among farmers in Punjab and Haryana, kept away from the protest.
It told its cadres not to participate in the protest “since SKM activists may indulge in rioting and violence.”
It has also called for a separate protest on August 5.
According to sources, the Chaduni group has alleged that the SKM – led by Yogendra Yadav, Hannan Mollah, Darshan Pal and Rakesh Tikait – has not taken it into confidence over taking important decisions and had undermined its contribution to the movement.
A close confidant of Rakesh Tikait told National Herald that the “Chaduni faction feels SKM has become too political which is not good for farmers’ unity”.
Interestingly, it was Chaduni who, going against the consensus, decided to opt for electoral politics and launched “Mission Punjab” ahead of Assembly election in Punjab earlier this year.
Balbir Singh Rajewal, who formed Samyukta Samaj Morcha (SSM) to contest the Punjab election, had earlier snapped ties with the SKM.
“Political aspirations created a divide among cadres and leaders of the SKM,” said a BKU leader, adding, “Farmers’ struggle cannot remain apolitical but to which extent should the SKM go against the ruling party is the question”.
Shiv Kumar Kakka, who led farmers’ protests in Mandsaur against the Shivraj Singh government in Madhya Pradesh was the first to go against the SKM’s leadership.
He, along with Dalewal, left the SKM in July, levelling allegations that the body which was formed to fight for farmers' rights had been turned into a political outfit, fighting against the ruling party instead of working for the welfare of the farmers, due to “ideological commitments”.
Kakka and his supporters even opposed general body meetings convened by the dominant faction of the SKM jointly led by Mollah, Yadav and Darshan Pal.
Kakka convened a separate meeting on July 1, two days before a SKM meeting. He was said to have been “upset with the dominance of pro-left leaders in the group”.
Hannan Mollah, former Lok Sabha MP and AIKS general secretary, debunked allegations levelled by Kakka, saying Kakka and Dalewal are known for their pro-RSS leaning.
“People know that Kakka has closely worked with an RSS-linked farmers’ outfit in Madhya Pradesh,” said Mollah.
“Kakka and his men have been defaming SKM since last year,” said Mollah, adding, “SKM leadership collectively decided to do away with these people.”
When asked why Chaduni fraction did not participate in the protest held on July 31, Mollah said, “SKM is an umbrella body of more than three dozen of big farmers unions…Decisions are taken collectively, not as per someone’s whims and fancies but the problem with Chaduni is that he works like a one-man army.”