Kisan Mahapanchayat in Lucknow today; farmers say protests to continue till farm laws formally repealed

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New Delhi: Farmers attend Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SMK) meeting at Singhu border

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmers’ unions, is set to hold a mahapanchayat in Lucknow on Monday to press for a law guaranteeing MSP and the sacking of Union Minister Ajay Mishra, whose son is an accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence. The gathering, scheduled to be held at Eco Garden in Uttar Pradesh capital, was planned months before Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced repealing the three contentious agri laws.

The SKM, at a meet in Delhi on Sunday, decided to stick to the date.

Despite the prime minister’s surprise announcement, farmer leaders have maintained the protesters won’t budge until the three contentious laws are formally repealed in Parliament.

They have also indicated the sir for a statutory guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP) and withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill will continue.

In a tweet on Sunday, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait gave a call to farmers to gather in Lucknow for the ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’ demanding statutory MSP guarantee.

In another tweet in Hindi, he claimed, “The farm reforms being talked about by the government is false and cosmetic. These will not end the plight of the farmers. The biggest reform for the farmers and agriculture will be to make a law guaranteeing minimum support price.”

Vice-president of the BKU’s Uttar Pradesh unit Harnam Singh Verma said, “The prime minister has announced the repeal of the three farm laws, but he did not say when the MSP law will be made. Until a law is made guaranteeing MSP and Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra is removed from his post, the agitation will continue.”

Four farmers were allegedly mowed down by an SUV in the Lakhimpur Kheri district, the native place of the Union minister on October 3. In the ensuing violence, four people, including a journalist and two BJP workers, were also killed.

Over a dozen people, including the minister’s son Ashish Mishra, have been arrested so far in the case.

Verma said that apart from MSP and the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, many other issues will also be discussed at the farmers’ mahapanchayat on Monday.

With Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh scheduled to be held early next year, the ‘Kisan mahapanchayat’ in the state capital has assumed much significance.

Farmers are electorally important, particularly in western Uttar Pradesh from where Rakesh Tikiat hails.

“The BJP had promised during the last Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections that once it forms government, sugarcane farmers will receive payment within 14 days. But it has not been done. In the last four-and-a-half years, sugarcane price has increased by a bare Rs 25,” Verma said.

Reports from various districts indicate that farmers will be attending the mahapanchayat in large numbers. BKU’s district president of Baghpat Pratap Singh Gurjar and of Muzaffarnagar Yogesh Sharma said that farmers have already left for Lucknow in large numbers.

“Until all the demands of the protesting farmers are met, the agitation will continue. The prime minister made the announcement with an eye on the upcoming Assembly election in which the BJP is seeing the reins of power slipping away,” president of Rashtriya Kisan Manch Shekhar Dixit said.

Amandeep Singh Sandhi, the in-charge of BKU-Tikait’s Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand unit, said that he expects 10,000 to 15,000 farmers from Lakhimpur Kheri to participate in the mahapanchayat.

Apart from the villages of the farmers killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, several others would attend the mahapanchayat, Bhartiya Kisan Union state secretary Om Prakash Verma said.

Sukhvinder Singh, the father of Gurvinder Singh, one of the four farmers killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, said he would attend the mahapanchayat.

Lucknow Police Commissioner of DK Thakur said that elaborate security arrangements have been made for the ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’.

(With inputs from PTI)

Also Read | SKM writes open letter to PM Modi after farm laws repeal; lists six demands

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