We have constitutional right to take out tractor rally on January 26: Farmer unions post SC verdict

CHANDIGARH: The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, a joint forum of farmer organisations spearheading the ongoing protest against farm laws, on Monday disassociated itself from a meeting its constituent Gurnam Singh Chaduni had attended with some opposition leaders, and reiterated that the movement “will not have any direct engagement with any political party”.

A controversy erupted after Bhartiya Kisan Union-Haryana president Chaduni attended the meeting along with the opposition leaders in Delhi on Sunday and supported a call for convening a ‘Jan Sansad’ (People’s Parliament) on the farmers’ issue on January 22-23.

In a statement, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) said its coordination committee “inquired into the controversial matter of Chaduni’s meeting with several political parties”.

“Chaduni, clarifying his stand to the committee, stated in writing that yesterday’s meeting was organised by him in his personal capacity. SKM is not associated with this activity in any way. Realising this, he assured the committee that in future, while the ongoing farmers’ agitation is underway, he will not attend any political party meeting,” it said, adding that the committee “welcomed his statement and decided to end the controversy here”.

However, the SKM had said earlier in the day that it “has formed a committee that will inquire into the matter and give its report in three days’ time. SKM will take further steps thereafter.”

In the late-evening statement, the morcha said, “The juncture at which this current unprecedented farmers’ movement is, unity and discipline are of highest priority. Any organisation and party is free to extend its support; however, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha and the movement will not have any direct engagement with any political party.”

On his meeting with opposition leaders, Chaduni told reporters near Delhi’s Singhu border on Monday that he wanted to let the country know where all these parties “stand on farm laws — whether they are against these or in favour”.

At the same time, he added that he will abide by whatever the morcha decides.

Replying to a question, he also said that his organisation had never invited any politician to share stage or address the people during the ongoing agitation against the Centre’s new farm laws.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at various border points of Delhi for over 50 days now demanding repeal of the three laws — the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.

Enacted in September 2020, the central government has presented these laws as major farm reforms aimed at increasing farmers’ income, but the protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the minimum support price (MSP) and “mandi” systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporations.

The government has maintained that these apprehensions are misplaced and has ruled out a repeal of the laws.

Multiple rounds of talks between the government and the protesting unions have failed to resolve the impasse on the matter.