Elections have split farmers in Punjab? they opted to enter politics, what’s the rush?
‘The elections have split farmers,’ said Lal Singh, 65, who owns a grinding mill in Dhaipai village, Mansa district of Punjab. ‘If all of the agricultural unions chose to run in elections as a unified entity, you’d see a lot more people supporting them.’
Kuldeep Singh, a 36-year-old agricultural laborer from Mansa’s Hamirgarh locality, expressed his skepticism. Although the three contentious laws were abolished, minimum support prices (MSP) were still not legally guaranteed, and compensation for many of the farmers who died during the movement had yet to be paid. Farm leaders, he said, should have focused their efforts on these issues.
‘However, they opted to enter politics. What’s the rush? He questioned. He was also unconvinced by a political party that elected to run its candidates as independents. If someone is fighting as an independent today, I believe they can be purchased by anyone tomorrow,’ Kuldeep Singh stated.
Lal Singh’s son had joined the protest movement at the Tikri border during the farmers’ movement. While the 65-year-old is very concerned about farmers’ requests, he also has other concerns, such as unemployment.
‘Just walk throughout the hamlet and you’ll see a youth sitting around doing nothing, Lal Singh added. It’s quite harmful; they may quickly develop unhealthy habits.’
Others feel that having a farmers’ party in the assembly will help them be better represented. ‘Even if just five or six farm leaders are elected, they will discuss our concerns in the assembly. We’ll have the impression that farmers have a say in government ‘Gurtej Singh, 60, of Kaleke village in Barnala district, agreed.
He is a member of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Qadian), one of 10 powerful farmers’ unions that have opted to keep out of politics, yet he would vote for the Morcha.