The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), a collective of 32 farmer unions that was formed in November 2020 to oppose the farm laws, has appealed to the farmers to ‘punish’ the BJP in the five poll-bound states. The leaders of SKM issued an appeal to this effect at a press conference, exhorting the community to vote against the BJP for not keeping its promises despite repealing the three farm laws. SKM claimed that their appeal has been endorsed by 57 farmers unions across the country.
Their grudge against the BJP-led central government is that despite the written assurances, their demands have not yet been met, including withdrawal of FIRs that were registered against the farmers during the 378-day protests and formation of a committee on Minimum Support Price (MSP). During the more than a year-long protest, over 700 farmers lost their lives while camping on Delhi’s borders.
Justifying their opposition to the BJP, SKM also issued a litany of unmet promises made by the party in the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in 2017. These include:
- Failing to waive off loans for all the farmers in the state; instead, loans of just up to ₹1 lakh was waived for 44 lakhs farmers.
- Failing to ensure payments for sugarcane within 14 days of procurement and interest on the outstanding amount.
- Failing to provide enough electricity at a reasonable price; instead, rates in UP are among the highest in the country.
- Failing to ensure full procurement of paddy and wheat. The SKM alleged that only one-third of paddy production and one-sixth of wheat production was procured by the state.
- Failing to prevent crop damage by stray cattle.
SKM plans to hold similar press conferences at nine places in UP and Uttarakhand, including Meerut, Kanpur, Siddharth Nagar, Gorakhpur, Allahabad (Prayag Raj) and Lucknow. The stray cattle menace that has increased in rural UP after the Yogi Adityanath government banned cow slaughter is one of the pain points of the farming community. In Western UP, which was one of the epicentres of the farmer’s agitation, it has become one of the poll issues.
In the appeal, SKM also highlighted the Lakhimpur Khiri incident and how the state government dragged its feet to arrest the alleged perpetrator, Ashish Mishra, son of union minister Ajay Mishra Teni, who has refused to resign despite persistent demand from the farmers. Last year, in the run-up to the West Bengal elections as well, SKM leaders campaigned in the state against the BJP, without endorsing any other party.