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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Explained: Why farmers have started protesting against Congress leaders in Punjab

While earlier only BJP leaders were facing farmers’ protests, now those from the ruling Congress too are facing ire of protesters across the state.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba |
Updated: August 13, 2021 3:06:14 pm
On June 28, Congress MP Manish Tewari was shown black flag at Nawanshahr when he came to inaugurate an oxygen plant

While earlier only BJP leaders were facing farmers’ protests, now those from the ruling Congress too are facing ire of protesters across the state. Like in the case of BJP, there are no directions from Samyukat Kisan Morcha (SKM) to protest against the Congress leaders in the state. Then why farmers are targeting Congress.

When did farmer protests against Congress leaders start in Punjab?

It started on June 15th when Congress MP from Anandpur Sahib visited Nawanshahr for inaugurating some development projects at Bharta Kalan and Bazidpur villages Doaba Kisan Union (DKU) protested against him. Then, Congress MLA Hardyal Singh Kamboj faced protest at village Budhanpur in Patiala on June 27 and on June 28 Congress MP Tewari was again shown black flags at Nawanshahr when he had come to inaugurate oxygen plant at the Civil Hospital. Congress MLA from Nawanshahr, Angad Saini, too faced farmers’ anger the same day. Activists of Kirti Kisan Union (KKU) were protesting there.

Cabinet minister Balbir Singh Sidhu had to cancel his visit to Jalandhar’s Dhanowali village on July 14 at the last minute when he came to know that farmers had reached the spot where he had to inaugurate a dispensary. KKU and Bharti Kisan Union (Rajewal) activists were part of this protest.

Newly appointed PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu faced around half a dozen protests ever since he took over.

First he faced a protest at Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of Shaeed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh on July 20. KKU, Doaba Kisan Union (DKU) activists were protesting there. Then on July 22, July 24, August 5 and August 6, he faced similar protest in Tarn Taran, Chamkor Sahib, Moga and Jalandhar, respectively. These protests were led by Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC), KKU and BKU (Rajewal).

Are protesting farmer unions part of SKM? What is the opinion of SKM leaders on this?

BKU (Rajewal), BKU (Krantikari), KKU all are the part of SKM except KMSC.
“Our only directions are to protest against BJP leaders as there are no directions for protest against any other party, including ruling Congress,” said, Jagmohan Singh, general secretary, BKU (Dakaunda), which is part of SKM, a body of 40 farm unions which are spearheading the farm agitation at Delhi border.

“Sometimes the message does not reach properly at the ground and in our meetings we will make things clear about SKM’s directions,” he said, adding that SKM’s protests should be observed in disciplined manner.

Why are farmers cornering Congress leaders now in the state?
Farmer leaders said after sitting on the roads for 8 months, the frustration level among protesters is up. Now they will corner the state government too for its failure on different fronts. They have become tired of “false promises” of ruling Congress too and are protesting as per their own plan at the local level. Satnam Singh Sahni, general secretary of BKU (Doaba), said that farmers at the ground level believe that no political party would come to their rescue and protests are the only way to make pressure on them because of which they have started protesting against the Congress leaders now in power. Also, the leaders of other parties may face similar protests in the coming time, he added.

“Not only farmers, but every section of the society is feeling cheated because of unfulfilled, false promises of the ruling party and ahead of elections now farmers at local level have started doing these protests to wake up government,” said Sahni.

He also said that farmers want a concrete plan to bring them out of the agrarian crisis.

Sahni did not rule out farmer union flags being used by some to settle personal scores.

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What are the issues being raised by these local farm protestors targeting Congress leaders?

KKU leaders blame Congress for liberalisation and thus setting the state for present policies of the Centre. They are also raising issues like unemployment, erratic power supply among others.

Farmers said that Sidhu never supported their cause in the past and never visited any farmer’s home, but was now claiming to support them for votes. Apart from his ‘thirsty goes to the well’ statement, farmers are miffed over Sidhu rejecting power portfolio, but now raising PPAs for scoring political points.

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