FPJ Edit: Electoral politics is not farmers’ cup of tea

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Tuesday, January 18, 2022, 08:15 AM IST
article-image
(PTI Photo)

Beneath the hullabaloo of elections in five states there is something very interesting happening in Punjab that has not come to national attention because the media has not been giving importance to it. In that state, for the first time, farmers’ organisations are fighting elections to come to power. There are two organisations in the battlefield: one led by Balbir Singh Rajewal, called the Sanyukt Samaj Morcha and another led by Gurnam Singh Charuni, called the Sanyukt Sangharsh Party. Both Rajewal and Charuni were prominent faces in the farmers’ movement, under the banner of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM).

Rajewal and Charuni say they have taken to electoral politics because all the parties elected by the people of Punjab over the years have only promoted crime and corruption and only farmers can provide an honest government. They say they are seeking power to ‘purify’ Punjab.This is an experiment in Punjab and if Rajewal and Charuni succeed,it might become a model for farmers elsewhere too -- seek power through elections to ‘purify’ their states. But is that happening? Do Rajewal and Charuni look like potential winners of the popular mandate in Punjab? The answer so far is negative. In the first place, there is confusion about who represents the farmers in Punjab: Rajewal or Charuni? Charuni claims to have fought elections earlier and hence claims superiority over Rajewal. On his side, Rajewal claims tohave far greater support among the farmers in Punjab than Charuni. The two first announced they would fight elections separately,thensat downto talk about an alliance, which did not work out as Rajewal was not prepared to give Charuni more than a few seats. Finally, Rajewal announced thathis Sanyukt SamajMorcha would fight all 117 assembly seats. So, the two farmers’ organisations are going to fight for farmers’ votes across the state.

That is not all. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha has announced that the farmers’ organisations that are fighting elections will no longer be a part of the SKM.The firm and clear decision of the SKM is going to adversely affect the prospects of the political parties led by Rajewal and Charuni. The SKM had, from the very beginning, taken a stand against participation in elections. Throughout the year-long agitation the SKM had maintained its apolitical image. It had not allowed any political party or politicians to be a part of its movement. Though the opposition parties supported its agitation they were not allowed to join it. So when 22 of the 32 farmers’ unions of Punjab decided to set up a political party (Sanyukt Samaj Morcha) under the leadership of Rajewal, the SKM declared it had nothing to do with it or Charuni’s Sanyukt Sangharsh Party.

There were many who felt Rajewal and Charuni, by breaking away from the farmers’ movement to fight elections, had damaged their cause. The farmers’ movement had not ended with the Modi government’s announcement to repeal the three farm laws. It had only been suspended. The SKM was stillto negotiate with the Modi government on the demand for guaranteed minimum support price (MSP) for 23 crops, which the organisation considered the main issue. Rajewal and Charuni jumping into electoral politics when the main issue of the farmers was still unresolved was bound to weaken the movement. All it did was give the Modi government supporters a chance to say, “What did we tell you? It was not a farmers’ movement. It was a political movement. Now its leaders have cast off their masks.” In fact, this is the propaganda issuing from the troll army of Modi supporters.

Although the political adventure of Rajewal and Charuni might have dented the apolitical image of the SKM, it is ever so slight. The real damage Rajewal and Charuni have done is to themselves. The river of electoral politics is dirty, unlike the mythically pure Ganga. Rajewal, Charuni and their candidates cannot swim across it without getting their hands or faces filthy. They will be forced to select candidates according to religion and caste. They will have to seek money from legal and illegal sources to fund their campaign. And in all these trades, the established political parties are way ahead of them. Again, the latter also have electoral networks from the apex level down to the booth level in every constituency. Rajewal and Charuni have just started. They cannot build such a deep network within a few weeks. An even more difficult task for them is to make themselves accepted as representatives of the interests of all sections and not just of those of farmers. In electoral politics, you cannot restrict your interest to one particular section of society or one set of demands or one cause. To sum up, the grim prospect staring in their faces is that they might end up being neither farmers’ leaders nor politicians.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

Mumbai: Central Railway struggling to keep windows of AC locals safe from unwanted elements

Mumbai: Central Railway struggling to keep windows of AC locals safe from unwanted elements

Mumbai: 20-year-old mobile thief gets caught after he replaces SIM card in stolen handset to chat...

Mumbai: 20-year-old mobile thief gets caught after he replaces SIM card in stolen handset to chat...

Mumbai: SRA declares all slum pockets of city as approved slums to expedite redevelopment

Mumbai: SRA declares all slum pockets of city as approved slums to expedite redevelopment

Reasons why Aryan Khan was given a clean chit

Reasons why Aryan Khan was given a clean chit

Lonavala school closure: Education dept says it should run for a year

Lonavala school closure: Education dept says it should run for a year