Punjab farmers sow political seed 

Agri unions float new front, will contest all 117 seats & keeps options open for AAP alliance
Farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal. (Photo | ANI)
Farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal. (Photo | ANI)

CHANDIGARH: Two weeks after ending their year-long protest against the farm laws, 22 Punjab-based farmers’ unions on Saturday decided to float a joint front to contest the coming assembly elections in the state. The front, the Samyukt Samaj Morcha, will field candidates in all the 117 assembly seats and did not rule out an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party.

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, of which the 22 unions were a part during the agitation, said it will not float a political front as it was formed only for the issue of farmers.

Balbir Singh Rajewal, the president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union BKU (Rajewal), will head the new group. He said Punjab was facing a lot of problems such as drugs, unemployment and migration of the youth from the state and they wanted to address them. “We will be fighting all the 117 assembly seats,” another farm leader Harmeet Singh Kadian said. He claimed that there was public pressure to take the political plunge. “The people asked us to do something so we decided to form this morcha,” he said. 

The farm unions in the new morcha that have a big following are Rajewal’s group, BKU Kadian, BKU Doaba and BKU Mansa. They have a sizeable presence in the South Malwa, Doaba and Majha regions of the state. 

Out of the 117 seats, 69 are in Malwa, 25 in Majha and 23 in Doaba. The political assessment is that barring about 40 seats in urban and semi-urban belts, the new front could impact the electoral fortunes of the traditional parties. 

“The cadres of the farm unions whether they are contesting or not, will vote for the morcha. They will get more votes from areas which drew maximum participation in the agitation, especially South Malwa and Amritsar, Taran Taran and Gurdaspur districts of Majha,” said political analyst Prof Jagrup Singh Sekhon. 

But the biggest farm union in Punjab, the BKU (Ugrahan), which has an influence in 15 of the 23 districts in the state and claims a following of 3-4 lakh, mostly in the Malwa region, is not a part of the newly floated morcha.

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