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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Big farmers eye tickets, say in political corridors

🔴 The Jalandhar Potato Growers’ Association (JPGA) is one such farmer group with nearly 5,000 members -- big and small farmers.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar |
Updated: January 14, 2022 10:36:58 am
Members of Jalandhar Potato Growers Association, including president Raghbir Singh, and general secretary Jaswinder Sangha, announce support to the SSM. (Express Photo)

Not just the landless and marginal farmers, the formation the Sanyukt Samaj Morcha to fight Punjab polls has also given hope to big farmers and their pressure groups of getting a say in the state’s political corridors.

The Jalandhar Potato Growers’ Association (JPGA) is one such farmer group with nearly 5,000 members — big and small farmers. JPGA, which is not a farm union in traditional sense, is a pressure group that has already announced its support for the farmers’ front SSM.

Talking to the Indian Express, JPGA general secretary Jaswinder Singh Sangha said that the group had supported traditional political parties in the past, but after they seized power even farmers’ genuine demands were ignored. He added that this time they have decided to support SSM as it is “farmers’ own party”.

Interestingly, the JPGA is expecting to have two of the group’s candidates contest on SSM tickets. “We are expecting at least two tickets in Doaba from SSM. We have applied for Jalandhar Cantt Assembly segment in district Jalandhar and Kapurthala segment in district Kapurthala,” said Sangha, adding that for Jalandhar Cantt seat, which is currently being represented by Congress minister Pargat Singh, “I have applied myself while for Kapurthala there are 2-3 candidates from JPGA”.

He said that their 21-year-old organisation has a good base in Doaba region — Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr — as it has been continuously struggling for the rights of the potato growers.

Another member of JPGA said that earlier they were thinking of supporting either AAP or Congress, but they have seen that all the traditional parties are more or less the same.

Sangha also said that SSM shared their ideology as the main aim for them is to save the groundwater of the state, to get a good price for farmers’ crop and to end by the middlemen.

“We want agricultural reforms where both farmers and consumers will be happy,” he said, adding that the farming crisis is a big crisis across the country and SSM can better understand it than any other political party.

Another big farmer from Jalandhar district said that he and 2-3 other big farmers have also met SSM leaders recently and expressed their desire of contesting elections from Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur.

“We hope that they will consider our case,” said one of such farmers from Jalandhar who had supported year-long agitation of farmers at Delhi border by sending supplies.

A Doaba-based SSM leader said that SSM is a new party and it needs a lot of support from the fellow farmers. He said that the potato grower association has a good base but winning elections is a different thing.

“We are discussing about their demands of seeking two Assembly tickets for Jalandhar Cantt and Kapurthala and certainly they will get something because SSM needs good faces with solid base in their respective constituencies.

Another SSM leader revealed that the party will definitely face shortage of the candidates because some farmers unions, which have popular farm leaders faces and are the part of SSM, have decided not to contest elections, and in such a situation if other farmers’ group extend support to SSM then they may have a chance of getting tickets.

SSM leaders also revealed that several big farmers are approaching them for tickets, but everything will be decided after through deliberations as SSM’s talks with Samyukta Sangharsh Party (SSP) of Haryana-based BKU leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni, are also underway.

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