AGITATING FARMER organisations on Wednesday suspended chief of Bharti Kisan Union (Lakhowal) Ajmer Singh Lakhowal from the Coordination Committee for moving the Supreme Court against farm laws without taking other organisations into confidence.
BKU (Lakhowal) had Tuesday withdrawn a petition it had filed in Supreme Court Monday, demanding that the three farm laws recently enacted by the Centre be declared unconstitutional on grounds that Parliament is not empowered to legislate on agriculture, which is a state subject.
Spokesperson of the Coordination Committee Buta Singh Burjgill told the media that Lakhowal has been put under suspension till he shows proof of withdrawal of his petition. “He has not been sacked. He has been suspended,” he added.
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh said that the group’s U-turn on its petition was “a result of pressure from the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which seemed to be once again cozying up with the BJP”.
Lakhowal had been chairman of the Mandi Board for a decade under the Badal regime. The chief minister said that the sudden decision of Lakhowal’s organisation to back off from challenging the draconian farm laws indicated that he was acting on the behest of SAD. He warned other farmer unions to be cautious, and “not to play into the hands of the Akalis”, who “had been instrumental in enactment of the farm laws in the first place” in support of BJP.
Referring to SAD’s justification of the group’s decision to withdraw its writ petition, Amarinder said this “clearly indicated a bigger conspiracy, clearly designed by the power-seeking Badals to undermine the fight of the farmers against the black laws”. He termed SAD’s statement on the issue, in which a party leader had said that the BKU (Lakhowal) group should not have filed the petition without consulting other kisan unions, as “gross and unwarranted interference in the farmer organisations’ fight”.
The only explanation for such interference, said the chief minister, was that a deal had been sealed by Akalis with BKU (Lakhowal) president, who “clearly had no qualms about selling off the interests of the farmers to keep his friends in SAD happy”.
Captain Amarinder said the “entire affair seemed to suggest a collusion, crafted by the BJP at the Centre to weaken the farmers’ battle against the twin agricultural laws with which the Narendra Modi government wanted to destroy the very foundation of the farm sector and ruin the farming community”.
“The Union government had believed that by bringing these laws amid the pandemic, they would be able to avert any opposition as the farmers would be scared to come out on the roads. The BJP was clearly taken by surprise over the vociferous protests of the farmers, who braved lathis and Covid to fight for their survival,” said Captain Amarinder.
“On finding their hopes of an easy sell-out of the farm sector to Ambanis and Adanis, BJP decided to enact the entire drama of resignation by the Akalis, who then went on to try and woo farmers by playing on their sentiments, said the CM. However, when they found that farmers were not willing to be taken in by their pretensions and double standards, the Akalis decided to work on dividing the community by playing one group against the other,” he added.
The chief minister warned the Akalis against playing these dangerous games, which he said would “backfire on them as the farmers would not take such actions lying down”. “If the Akalis, or their political masters in the BJP, believe that they would be able to mislead the farmers with these antics, they were grossly mistaken”, he said.
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