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Friday, July 23, 2021

‘Don’t vote for the BJP’: Punjab farmers tell migrants who have come to work in their paddy fields

Leaders of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) too stated that farmers across the state have been interacting with migrants and telling them about the farm laws and the effects they might have on them as well as the labourers.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
June 29, 2021 9:28:10 pm
Labourers plant paddy in a field in Ludhiana's Malakpur village. (Express photo by Gurmeet Singh)

As Ramesh Yadav headed back for his home town Bareilly on Monday, he told his landlord Avtar Singh Taari,”BJP ko vote nahi dalenge (I will not vote for the BJP).”

Ramesh, along with other migrants from Uttar Pradesh, had come to Bhullerheri village in Sangrur for the paddy transplantation season. As their paddy transplantation work ended on Sunday, Ramesh headed back home, but not before having a chat with his landlord Avtar.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Avtar said, “We did interact with the migrants from UP and Bihar and told them that they should vote for anyone but the BJP in the coming elections in UP and Bihar. Uttar Pradesh is going to the polls next year. We are just reminding our labourers how if they vote for the BJP, big corporates will come in who will employ heavy machinery for doing the farming. There will be no need for manual labour anymore. Punjab farmers themselves may be at the receiving end of this. So, a question mark hangs over if or not they have any jobs in the future if these corporates come in.”

Like Ramesh, two other labourers — Satish Kumar and Pappu Yadav — have made their way to Bhullerhei for the paddy transplantation season this year from Bihar. Though they are yet to wrap up transplantation work, they promised to carry the message of not voting for the BJP with them whenever they returned.

“The three new farm laws have been brought in by the BJP and they are the reason why we will lose our bread and why should we vote for them if they don’t take these laws back,” both Satish and Pappu said in unison.
Ramesh added,” Punjab’s farmers are already sitting at Delhi borders. If they are affected, we will be impacted too. After all, we mostly earn our livelihoods for our families back in UP from here only. We are small farmers too in Bihar but our crops fetch very little money for us. We managed to get only Rs 1200-1300 per quintal for wheat this season. How can we run a family with that meagre amount?”

Amarinder Singh, another farmer based in Lakhowal village of Ludhiana, said,” At least 400 migrants came from UP and Bihar for paddy transplantation to our village. All of them are already worried about their livelihoods. There was hardly any need to make them aware.”

Narpinder Singh, the sarpanch of Shamaspur village in Fatehgarh Sahib district said, “A batch of migrants has already left for their hometowns in Uttar Pradesh. They told us that they have already taught the BJP a lesson in the panchayat polls. They will again express their anger and frustration in the upcoming state polls if the three farm laws are not repealed by then.”

Leaders of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) too stated that farmers across the state have been interacting with migrants and telling them about the farm laws and the effects they might have on them as well as the labourers.

“Most of the migrants are people who have been coming to work for us for the last ten or more years. Most migrants return to work for the same farmer every year and hence we have a cordial relationship with them. Hence they understand the harmful effects of the farm laws if implemented,” said Jagmohan Singh Patiala, general secretary BKU Dakaunda.

Ram Mandal, from Supaul district of Bihar, who came to work in a village of Barnala, echoed Jagmohan. “On the issue of farm laws, we all are on the same page. The new laws must be taken back. We too are small farmers in our villages back home,” he said.

When contacted Punjab BJP spokesperson, Anil Sareen, he said, “Migrants may be saying they won’t vote for us out of fear, as they will need to return to Punjab to earn their livelihood. Once they go back to their home sattes, I am sure they will vote and support the BJP. Not only migrants, the farmers too will vote for the BJP as the new farm laws will only benefit them. The BJP has done so much for the poor in the form of free ration, Jan Dhan Yojana , free toilets, housing scheme, gas connections. So, they will always support this party as we think about the welfare of everyone.”

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