‘Stir not over yet’: SKM takes farm fight to poll-bound Uttar Pradesh

LUCKNOW: Unmoved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to repeal the three contentious farm laws, Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) on Monday unleashed the combined might of 40 farm unions in Lucknow and warned of a prolonged agitation till all its six demands, including a legal guarantee on MSP for crops and Union junior minister Ajay Mishra Teni’s dismissal over the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, were met.
As hundreds of farmers from across UP and its neighbouring states, including Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan, converged on Lucknow’s Eco Garden for the kisan mahapanchayat, Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait declared the yearlong agitation he had been spearheading on the Delhi border was far from over.
“Sangharsh vishram ki ghoshna abhi humne nahi ki hai-…humare masle bahut hain abhi (We haven’t stopped our agitation, a lot of issues are yet to be resolved),” he said.
The mahapanchayat slogan — “MSP nahi toh andolan wahi (MSP off means agitation on)” — echoed what Tikait said. SKM threatened to take the stir to different parts of the country if the Centre didn’t fulfil its demands. The organisation has convened a meeting on the Delhi border on November 27 to decide its next course of action.
SKM’s wishlist includes repeal of the 2020 electricity bill, withdrawal of cases filed against farmers for stubble burning, rehabilitation of the families of farmers who died during the stir and a memorial to them at Singhu.
Tikait slammed BJP and its allies for allegedly diverting people’s attention from the farm protests by raising “communal issues”. Picking on PM Modi’s reference to “kuch log (some people)” while explaining why the Centre was forced to opt for a repeal of the farm laws, he alleged it was a ploy to divide the farmers.
“The PM’s apology will not help farmers get the right price for their produce. They will get this price only when MSP is given legal sanctity,” Tikait said, pointing out that a committee headed by Modi during his stint as Gujarat CM in 2011 had made the same recommendation. “The report is still there with the PMO and awaits implementation,” he said.
Jai Kisan Andolan convener Yogendra Yadav accused BJP of shielding junior home minister Teni, whose son allegedly ran over four protesting farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri. “He is the sutradhaar (facilitator) of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence,” Yadav said, addressing a gathering of farmers and asking them not to relent till the minister was sacked and jailed.
Among the farmers who reached the UP capital from the hinterland was Paramjeet Singh, a Sikh from Mehmoodabad tehsil in Sitapur. He said farmers were being forced to sell paddy for just over Rs 1,100 a quintal against an MSP of Rs 1,940. Another farmer from Pilibhit, Karan Singh, alleged that less than 10% of the total produce purchased from farmers was at MSP rates.
SKM’s combative move to call the mahapanchayat in Lucknow is seen as hitting BJP where it might potentially hurt the most, especially with assembly elections due early next year.

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