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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Chaduni threatens to go alone as SSM gives his outfit, partners only 9 seats

Chaduni, who had demanded 25 seats for his outfit, claims the SSM is offering only nine his outfit and all other farmers and workers' outfits associated with it.

Written by Sukhbir Siwach | Chandigarh |
Updated: January 14, 2022 6:01:10 am
Chaduni said: “We have been preparing for the polls for the past six months. We have candidates for 40-50 seats. They (Rajewal faction) have been ignoring (us) since the formation of SSM while we want to contest the elections unitedly.”

The alliance talks between Gurnam Singh Chaduni’s Samyukt Sangharsh Party (SSP) and Balbir Singh Rajewal’s political outfit Sanyukt Samaj Morcha (SSM) for the Punjab Assembly election seem headed for collapse over sharing seats. Chaduni, who had demanded 25 seats for his outfit, claims the SSM is offering only nine his outfit and all other farmers and workers’ outfits associated with it.

“They are offering us only nine seats. I asked Rajewal ji to give us at least 25 seats. Either they give us our due share, or we will be forced to field our candidates separately,” said Chaduni.

The SSM had earlier formed a committee for deciding on the seat-sharing arrangement with the SSP.On January 9, Chaduni had held talks with the SSM for the poll pact and after that, he stopped the scheduled announcement of his party’s 10 candidates for the February 14 polls.

In a video message, Chaduni, who is the chief of the Haryana unit of BKU, said he had demanded 25 seats but SSM, starting with five seats, sought to offer only nine seats to all outfits associated with SSP, which include Sanjha Sunehra Punjab, Punjab Kisan Dal, United Republic Party, Taxi union Punjab and Bharti Republic Party.

Chaduni said: “We have been preparing for the polls for the past six months. We have candidates for 40-50 seats. They (Rajewal faction) have been ignoring (us) since the formation of SSM while we want to contest the elections unitedly.”

He said he talked to Rajewal and demanded from him giving a satisfactory number of seats for his outfit.“We do not want that we should fight separately but they (SSM) are ignoring us,” he said.

Chaduni and Rajewal were among the most prominent faces of the farmers’ agitation against the three contentious farm laws. Chaduni alleged that even during the agitation, “Rajewal and his associates tried to push me back while ignoring me; they were upset because I was fighting from the front.”

In July 2021, Chaduni had given the call for ‘Mission Punjab’ and had said that farmer outfits in Punjab should fight the Assembly polls. It was on lines of ‘Mission Uttar Pradesh’ that the agitating farmer outfits had proposed and which was aimed at defeating BJP in that state’s Assembly elections. The call for ‘Mission Uttar Pradesh’ was an attempt to put pressure on the BJP government at the Centre to ensure withdrawal of farm laws. The three farm laws were repealed by Centre in November last year.

Chaduni said: “When they (other farm outfits) proposed Mission UP, I had proposed Mission Punjab so that the farmers themselves rule the state and frame policies in favour of them. I had given several examples too in favour of my contentions to suggest why it’s important to enter in the poll battle. But they (other farmer leaders) suspended me from the Samyukt Kisan Morcha when I talked about Mission Punjab while I made aware the people of Punjab stating the farmers should also join the politics.”

Meanwhile, a close associate of Rajewal has termed the latest statement of Chaduni as pressure tactics, and accused him of using similar “tactics” during the agitation too. Rajewal’s aide said: “This is just an attempt to garner more seats for the polls. But I am sure, both factions will reach a consensus in the interest of the farming community. The SSM has already announced ten seats in its first list released on Wednesday. In the next 1-2 days, one more list of candidates will be released.”

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