Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Fissures in Unity: Farmer Unions Splinter as Politics Takes Center Stage

by Parminder Singh Sodhi

The farmer protests that have dominated headlines and captured attention were seen as a symbol of solidarity, with various unions uniting under the umbrella of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM). However, recent developments have revealed a growing schism within the once-united front, raising questions about the true nature of the protests and whether they are genuinely driven by the welfare of farmers or embroiled in political maneuvers.

The rift became more apparent as negotiations between the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and SKM continued to falter, with separate protest schedules announced by both factions, signaling prolonged discord. The SKM (Non-Political) exacerbated tensions by declaring a rail-roko protest scheduled for March 10. In response, constituents of the SKM, including BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan), BKU Dakaunda, and Krantikari Kisan Union, announced their intentions to stage demonstrations across the state on March 5.

Behind these clashes lie deep-seated grievances, including concerns about the violence during the January 26, 2021, episode, and the controversial incident involving members associated with the unions of Sarwan Singh Pandher and Satnam Singh Pannu marching towards the Red Fort. These incidents have exacerbated existing fault lines within the farmer unions, leading to heightened tensions and factionalism.

The fissures within the unions were further exposed during a memorial service for Shubhkaran Singh in Balloh village, Bathinda district, where leaders from the SKM (Non-Political) were snubbed, and denied the opportunity to address attendees. This exclusion extended to prominent figures like Gurnam Singh Charuni and Gaurav Tikait, who played pivotal roles in spearheading the farmer agitation but found themselves sidelined during the ceremony.

Amidst this discord, questions about the true motives behind the protests have emerged. Is the agitation solely driven by the genuine grievances of farmers, or is it being manipulated for political gain, particularly with national elections looming on the horizon?

The ongoing negotiations between SKM (Non-Political) leaders and a delegation comprising BKU(U) chief Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Jhanda Singh Jethuke, and Roop Singh Chhannan underscore the urgency of restoring discipline within the ranks before undertaking unified action. However, the challenges of bridging the divides between various factions within the farmer unions loom large, complicating efforts to achieve a cohesive front.

As the standoff persists, the fate of the farmers’ agitation hangs in the balance, oscillating between the pursuit of genuine grievances and the shadows cast by political interests. The need for introspection within the farmer unions and a concerted effort to prioritize the welfare of farmers over political agendas has never been more critical. Only by addressing these internal divisions and reaffirming their commitment to the cause can the farmer unions hope to reclaim their unity and effectively advocate for the rights and well-being of farmers across the nation.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Khalsa Vox or its members.

Parminder Singh Sodhi

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