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Punjab Polls: For embattled SSM, a reality bite; divided unit, farmers not too keen

On being asked if this outfit will understand their issues better, majority of the farmers, who are not part of any farm union, from several villages of Jalandhar replied otherwise.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar |
Updated: January 28, 2022 4:31:24 am
Samyukta Samaj Morcha (SSM) is a political outfit formed by farmer unions to contest the upcoming elections in Punjab.

With the Sanyukta Samaj Morcha (SSM) releasing names of its candidates, the farmers have a mixed response about supporting the newly formed political outfit, which started off as an amalgamation of 22 farm unions, but now has only 13 as its part.

On being asked if this outfit will understand their issues better, majority of the farmers, who are not part of any farm union, from several villages of Jalandhar replied otherwise.

Gurmail Singh, a farmer from Jalandhar, said that they (the SSM) has jumped into the political battle without proper homework. “They are also not united themselves on elections. In such a scenario, people will hardly take them seriously. Even we as farmers would prefer some experienced party,” he said, adding that most of his fellow farmer friends are going for the already established parties.

Echoing similar sentiments, Navneet Pal Singh, a young farmer from Nauli village in Jalandhar, said that if they had to contest the elections then they should have focussed on fewer seats instead of contesting on all. “In the first go, it is difficult to get suitable candidates for all 117 seats,” he said, adding that even Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), which spearheaded the agitation against the now repealed agri laws, has stayed away from SSM and this has sent out a wrong message.

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“We know that farmers can understand the issues of farmers ‘well, but tickets are being given to several non-farmer candidates. What will such people know about the farming issues,” asked Jagjit Singh, another farmer, adding that selection of candidates has put a big question mark on SSM’s intentions.
Several farmers said that while in the battle against the three farm laws, all farm unions were united, but here the big unions are dragging their feet on supporting SSM.

Bakhshish Singh, another agriculturist, said that most farmers in Punjab have old party affiliations and they will hardly change it for a new outfit, which hardly has any base right now. “Instead of contesting elections, they should have made aware the farmers in each village to press the existing political parties to take up farming issues seriously just like they had put pressure on the Centre to cancel the black laws,” he said.

“One chance can be given to the new party over the existing one but for that SSM needs to give tickets to strong leaders from the farming community,” said another farmer Manpreet Singh from Hoshiarpur, adding that there are several examples of tickets being denied to known faces of the farming community.

Few senior leaders in the SSM are power hungry and just to fulfil their political ambitions, they took the decision in a hurry while they could have done good hard work first instead of jumping into the political arena, said a senior leader of the SSM itself.

“We are ready to vote for SSM but when we look at their candidates on a majority of the seats, we think it would be a waste of our vote,” said another farmer from Kapurthala.

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