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Updated on: Thursday, August 05, 2021, 12:24 AM IST

AGRI TO ‘AGGRO’? Agitating ryots mull political party to fight Assembly poll

A verbal spat breaks out between SAD MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu over farm laws in New Delhi. | —ANI

A verbal spat breaks out between SAD MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu over farm laws in New Delhi. | —ANI

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Chandigarh

The writing is beginning to appear on the walls.

With Punjab going to the polls next year and political parties yet to develop a road map that would propel them to the seat of power in the state, farmer unions have begun asserting themselves by continuing their siege of toll plazas to protest the three farm laws of the Centre.

While the protests are mostly centred in the Malwa region of the state, especially in Sangrur and Barnala districts, they are expected to spread across the state in the next few months. The polls in Punjab are likely to held in February or March next year.

The protests at the moment are being spearheaded by farmer unions under the banner of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) and the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan). Petrol pump premises belonging to a large corporate house are also being targeted.

According to the Sangrur block chief of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan), Gobinder Singh, the farmers will continue their protests outside the premises of the corporate houses till the central government repeals the farm laws. “When people fight for a cause they have to face some losses on other fronts. We are prepared for that. The farm laws have to be repealed,” he added.

While most farm unions have still not publicly announced their desire to float a political party to jointly contest the assembly poll, some favour the idea.

“We are simple farmers who have always been led either by the promises of the Congress or the Shiromani Akali Dal. But we have seen no change in our lives. It is time for us to decide our future for ourselves and not for political parties. That can only happen if we form a party and get into the assembly or parliament and raise our voices,” explained Amarjit Singh from Gadhera in Fatehgarh Sahib. Amarjit was not alone. Buta Singh from Rampura Phul is vociferous over the need for a farmer political party to raise their voices in the assembly.

“I have raised the issue of our problems and that the farm laws will spell doom for the farming community in front of the political parties, but the leaders simply ignore our fears. I want the farmer unions to get united and float a political party for the next election,” he explained.

While the Shiromani Akali Dal has stitched an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party, some farm unions have begun courting the Dalit population in the state with an eye on the assembly poll.

Dalits comprise over 30 per cent of the population in Punjab and have traditionally been voting for the Congress or the Shiromani Akali Dal. Only a little over three per cent own farmlands in the state. “There will be only one political party in Punjab the day Dalits and farmers join hands. We are seriously looking at the possibility in the future. It may not materialise in the next election. But farmers will decide on who will lead the state and country,” a farm leader said requesting anonymity.

‘KISAAN’ word red herring in Rajya Sabha

NEW DELHI: Like a bull charging at a red cloth, Deputy Chairman Harivansh Singh on Wednesday was on the offensive at the use of the word "Kisaan" in the Rajya Sabha by the Opposition members, who were angry at Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu agreeing in the morning to allow debates on the farmers' issues and price rise as a deal with the Government but did not put them on priority in the afternoon session.

He adjourned the House for 15 minutes due to ruckus in between, but rushed through passage of three official Bills with a semblance of the debate for 10 minutes each instead of two to three hours allotted by the House business advisory committee (BAC) as announced by the Chairman. Within 75 minutes all three Bills were passed before the House was adjourned for the day.

The deputy chairman cut short the Opposition members’ repeatedly on the ground that they were not speaking on the subject since they uttered the word "Kisaan" while speaking on the three Bills. —Our Bureau

FPJ VIEW

Quite understandably, the farmers, albeit a section of them, are thinking of launching their own political party as they have “realised” their own political party will be their “voice” in Parliament.

The suicide rate in the deeply stressed farm sector accounted for 7.4% of the total suicides in the country, resulting in deaths of 5,957 farmers and 4,324 farm labourers, the NCRB said in a latest report.

Over 28 farmers and farm labourers die by suicide in India every day, as per the 2021 State of India’s Environment (SoE) report — an annual brought out by Down To Earth in association with Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

Farmers have started realising their potential “politically”. Dalits comprise over 30% of the population in Punjab and have traditionally been voting for the Congress or the Shiromani Akali Dal. Only a little over 3% own farmlands in the state. So, it is high time, politicians should stop underestimating them and people in power should realise the strength of the farmers’ political party. —Robin Roy

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Oppn agrees to debate on 7 bills

The daily efforts of RS chairman M Venkaiah Naidu have at last succeeded in persuading the oppn parties to debate 7 govt bills, mostly already cleared by LS.

The deal was struck after the govt in turn agreed to a discus­sion on a notice by 2 Kerala MPs — CPI’s Binoy Viswam, 65, and Loktantrik Janata Dal’s MV Shre­yams Kumar, 54, for annul­ling Feb’s new IT Rules, manda­ting social media and OTT platforms to set up a grievance redressal me­ch­anism for the users and emp­owering the govt to control them. —Our Bureau

Pegasus debate: Oppn parties unite in Houses

Our Bureau / New Delhi

Eigtheen leaders of the Opposition parties on Wednesday took a “firm and united” stand on the discussion first on Pegasus issue in both Houses of Parliament since it has the national security dimensions and then only the discussion on the farmers’ issue.

In a joint statement, they also unequivocally convened that the discussion on the farmers’ issues and agitations arising from the three anti-farmers and black agri laws enacted by Parliament last September should follow the discussion on Pegasus.

“It is unfortunate that the government has unleashed misleading campaign to malign the combined Opposition and blame it for the continued disruption in Parliament. The responsibility for the deadlock lies squarely at the doorsteps of the government, which remains arrogant and obdurate and refuses to accept the Opposition’s demand for an informed debate in both the Houses,” the joint statement said.

In Parliament

-- Parliament clears LLP amendment bill, decriminalises provisions

-- BJP leader Roopa Ganguly broke down, asks TMC why not discuss in Parliament on women rape issue, murder of BJP workers in West Bengal

-- LS adjourned till Thursday amid oppn protests; 2 bills passed

-- RS adjourned till Thursday amid protest, passes AERA bill

-- 3 Bills passed in 45 minutes in RS on Wednesday

-- 680 committed suicides in CAPFs in last six years: Govt to RS

-- 1,948 arrested, 34 convicted under UAPA in 2019: Govt tells RS

-- RS passes Deposit Insurance & Credit Guarantee Corporation (Amendment) Bill

-- AI accumulated losses of about Rs70,820 crore till March 31, 2020: Govt

-- 4,046 applications of Hindus for citizenship still pending; 4,171 given Indian nationality under old law

6 Trinamool lawmakers suspended

Kolkata: Six TMC Rajya Sabha MP were suspended for a day over allegedly disorderly behavior in the House.

According to Rajya Sabha sources, despite asking the TMC MPs to behave in the House, the TMC MPs holding placards jumped into the Well of the House demanding discussion on Snooping scam, repealing of farm laws and the on the constant price hike on petroleum products.

“TMC MP’s Mausam Noor, Abir Ranjan Biswas, Dola Sen, Arpita Ghosh, Santa Chetri and Nadimul Haque were asked to withdraw themselves from the proceedings of the House for the day for disorderly behavior and disobeying the chair,” read the notice of Rajya Sabha.

—Our Correspondent

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Kisan Sansad calls experts on MSP

NEW DELHI: The Kisan Sansad, running parallel to Parliament at the Jantar Mantar road since last week, on Wednesday heard the eminent economists and experts as “guests of the House” for the next 2 days on the legal guarantee of the MSP the farmers get from the govt for their produces. The farmers noted the promise of PM Modi to double their income by 2022 seems to be yet another “jumla” (false claim) as they are not yet getting the remunerative prices to cover all expenses incurred in the crops they produce. Those, who turned up at the Sansad included experts like Dr Devinder Sharma, Dr Sucha Singh Gill and Dr RS Ghuman, the SKM said in a statement issued jointly by Balbir Singh Rajewal, Dr Darshan Pal, Gurnam Singh Charuni, Hannan Mollah, Jagjit Singh Dallewal, among others.

—Our Bureau

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Published on: Thursday, August 05, 2021, 12:24 AM IST
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