16 of 23 farm unions that contested Punjab polls want re-entry in SKM

SIXTEEN members of different farmer unions of Punjab have written to the Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) asking that they be taken back under the umbrella of the morcha again.

During the Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections, 23 farm unions of Punjab had floated their own party — the Sanyukt Samaj Morcha (SSM) — and announced their intention to participate in the 2022 polls. The Sanyukta Kisan Morcha had distanced itself from the new party, and said it was not in anyway associated with SSM. The new party was not allowed to use the SKM banners. Sixteen members from these 23 farm unions now have written to the SKM and requested that they be taken under their fold again.

Sources said that after getting the letter, a seven member committee of the SKM visited Ludhiana on Saturday to hold a meeting with all the 23 farmer unions of Punjab, which so far have either stayed neutral during elections or supported the SSM
“Two rounds of meetings have been conducted. The SKM committee did one meeting with 23 farmer unions at Rajguru Nagar area, which lasted for about 4 hours. Later in the evening a second meeting was held with the 16 members who had written to the SKM seeking return. The final call on this subject will be taken on June 8 at New Delhi where an all India meeting of the SKM has been scheduled,” said Harinder Singh Lakhowal, president BKU(Lakhowal), which is a member of the SKM.

According to sources, on Saturday a six member SKM committee — comprising Rakesh Tikait, Yogendra Yadav, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Dr Darshan Pal, Jagjit Singh Dallewal and Shiv Kumar Kakka — visited Ludhiana in person to talk to all the farmer unions. The seventh member of the committee — Hannan Mollah — joined the meeting through a video call.

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Sources also revealed that during the agitation against the three farm laws, four of the 16 members had opened back channel negotiations with the the Union Government, and a number of farm unions were of the opinion that these unions not be taken back.

In addition to this, there are allegations of mismanagement of funds against some members that during the agitation and then there are some members who supported the SSM but used the SKM’s name during campaigning, despite being prohibited from doing so.

Jagjit Singh Dallewal , president of BKU Sidhupur said,” The seven member committee is yet to decide on this issue. The next meeting of SKM is on June 8 in New Delhi, we expect some outcome in that meeting.”

He added,” In addition to this, we also discussed the anti encroachment drive being carried out in the state on panchayati lands. We believe that in the garb of this drive, the government is troubling small and marginal farmers, instead of going after the big fishes. Farmers who have ownership right of their land and have been cultivating or living on the land for more than 100 years should not be evicted. We have conveyed our concerns to the government and will launch a protest if this drive is not stopped at the earliest. They need to go after the big fishes in Kharar where over 25,000 acres of panchayati land has been encroached upon by influential people.”

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