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At show of strength, farm union says will question candidates on promises

Another union leader said the rally was also meant to be a call to protest against the BJP-led Centre at district headquarters on January 31, which will be observed by farmers as “betrayal day”.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
Updated: January 22, 2022 12:18:00 pm
During the rally in Barnala on Friday. Gurmeet Singh

Amid Covid restrictions, thousands of farmers, under the banner of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda), assembled at a grain market in poll-bound Punjab’s Barnala district Friday for a show of strength. They claimed it was largest gathering by the farmers since they ended their Delhi border protests. At the gathering, the union leaders urged the farmers to question all political parties, including the ruling Congress, about their unfulfilled promises.

“All Congress candidates will be asked tough questions about what they did to their farm loan waiver promise, about the compensation for the families of farmers who died during the protests against farm laws…,” said Buta Singh Burjgill, president of the union. Candidates of the Opposition SAD and AAP will also be questioned on their promises, he said.

Another union leader said the rally was also meant to be a call to protest against the BJP-led Centre at district headquarters on January 31, which will be observed by farmers as “betrayal day”. “We will also be going to Delhi to protest against the central government on January 31,” said Manjit Singh Dhaner, vice-president of the union.

A 13-point resolution passed at the rally directed most of the union’s anger at the Centre and Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni. “When farmers came back from Delhi borders, the Union government had given us in writing that a minimum support price committee would be formed by January 15… but till date there is no talk about this committee… In the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni has not faced any action yet. He should be removed from the cabinet, and police should take action against him,” Burjgill said.

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As for the Sanyukt Samaj Morcha, a political party floated by 22 other farmer unions in the state, one of the speakers said it couldn’t be treated on a par with other parties. “The SSM is a new political party. We will not raise any questions to them, but we will not blindly trust them either. However, as it is their first try in politics, they can’t be treated on a par with the Congress, SAD and the AAP,” said Narian Dutt from Inqlaabi Manch. BKU (Dakaunda) is not part of the SSM experiment.

The resolution also supported a nationwide workers strike scheduled for February 23 and 24.

Withdrawal of labour law amendments as well as the National Education Policy, 2020; scrapping of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act; release of all political prisoners from jails; and recruitment of employees on regular pay scales were some of the other demands in the resolution. The farmer union also wanted India to quit the World Trade Organization.

Woman leaders Balbir Kaur from Mansa and Amarjeet Kaur from Barnala were among those who addressed the rally where people gathered in large numbers despite the cold weather. A book stall was the main attraction at the protest site.

 

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