11
Sep

Farmers Protest: Election Campaign

   Posted by: aman   in Punjab

Day 289

Toll 596

Election Campaign

Yesterday, the Samyukth Kisan Morcha’s Panjab Farmer Unions met with all Panjab political party leaders, except BJP, at the People Convention Centre, Sector 36, Chandigarh.

Given that elections are a few months away, the SKM is interested in keeping the people of the state focussed on the protest and does not want them distracted by political rallies or their opposition. They requested all political parties to not conduct political rallies until the state elections are announced. They committed that farmers will not obstruct social gatherings.

This step was necessary because the political situation is quite a mess. Not only because of Congress infighting, Shiromani Akali Dal nowhere close to recovering ground lost in last 5 years, AAP also in a deep churn.

On September 2, we saw the fracas between farmers and police over a Akali political rally. Given the situation, given how Centre is on the backfoot over the farmers protest, how BJP has no face left in Punjab, there is general apprehension of President’s Rule in the state.

The meeting was an interesting show of strength in reverse. Normally we are accustomed to politicians keeping the people waiting, delaying meetings. But yesterday, politicians were kept waiting. Navot Sidhu, the Panjab Congress head waited a whole hour before he was called in.

The result of the meeting was:

- All small parties and AAP agreed that they will not start election campaign before elections are announced. Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal noted the request but said they would revert after consultation with their high command.

- Unions posed that since all political parties, once elected, go back on their promises in the election manifesto, why not make the manifesto a legal document with timelines to implement promises if elected? All parties agreed to the proposal, in theory.

- Unions put up their demand to Congress to work with the Centre and cancel the submission of land records at APMCs to sell grain. The issue is complex because the titles of much of the land ownership of all farmers, all over the country, is not completely legally clear. It has to do with patterns of family ownership and not all farmers till their lands.

- The press asked if the Unions had also demanded from Congress to withdraw charge-sheets against farmers in Moga. The police has already agreed to withdraw the cases and sought one week to do that.

- Upon being pushed to declare which party the unions support, the unions summed up their meeting with the words that any political party that continues to conduct rallies will be seen as ‘anti-farmer’ and that will have consequences in the elections.

I think, in the interest of the farmers protest, and also for general peace in a democracy, this was an essential exercise. I hope the political parties heed the farmer unions’ request and Panjab averts a President’s rule. This move will also save political parties expenses to mount their campaign well in advance and will keep people focussed on the protests.

I also cannot help note how wily-nily this request will also play out personally in favour of Panjab CM Amarinder Singh. We know his tenure has been an utter failure. We know he cannot really face the people of the state. This request will give him an alibi to not appear in public. It is interesting how in Karnal, the unions are making the Haryana CM accountable, but in Panjab the unions’ call is allowing the CM a face saver.

Please do not read my understanding as an aspersion on the unions or any kind of insinuation. It is just an illustration of how every step we take has consequences, sometimes unintended. Overall, the meeting was a good illustration of people’s power over their representatives.

This entry was posted on Saturday, September 11th, 2021 at 9:38 am and is filed under Punjab. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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