Delhi Chalo protests: Who are farmer leaders steering this movement?

| Updated: 13 February, 2024 1:52 pm IST

NEW DELHI: Samyukta Kisan Morcha and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha are leading the farmers’ protest in 2024. Over 200 farmer unions are slated to march towards Delhi on Tuesday. The “Delhi Chalo” march was announced by farmer unions in December 2023.

This time, farmers are demanding a legal guarantee of MSP and the implementation of the Swaminathan formula, among other things. This protest revives memories of the year-long protest that began in 2020, which led to the repealing of three farm laws. However, the two leading fronts from 2020, Samyukta Kisan Morcha and Bharatiya Kisan Union, are not at the forefront this time.

Samyukt Kisan Morcha (non-political)

This group emerged as a branch of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha in November 2020, spearheading the initial farmers’ protest in Delhi. While the main SKM experienced various splinter groups in 2022, this faction, led by Jagjit Singh Dallewal, emphasised its non-political stance.

Kisan Mazdoor Morcha

Under the leadership of Sarwan Singh Pandher, this organisation did not participate in the 2020 protest. Pandher clarified on Tuesday that this farmers’ protest is devoid of political affiliations. Contrary to speculation, he asserted, “We blame the Congress as much as the BJP. Neither do we support the Left. What revolution has come in West Bengal where the Left ruled for so many years? We are not in favour of any political party.”

Where is Rakesh Tikait? Where are SKM and Bharatiya Kisan Union?

The SKM has decided not to join the Delhi Chalo march but strongly criticises the intimidating environment created to scare people. SKM and other major trade unions have called for a nationwide strike and rural shutdown on February 16.

“SKM wants PM Modi to explain why his government isn’t willing to talk with farmers and workers about the nationwide strike and its impact on people’s lives,” SKM stated.

Prominent farmer leader from the Bharatiya Kisan Union, Rakesh Tikait, is also not part of the Delhi Chalo protest but supports the Bharat bandh on February 16. “We’ve called for a nationwide shutdown on February 16.

“Many farmer groups, including the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), are part of it. Farmers should not work on their fields that day. Just like farmers take a break on ‘Amavasya’, February 16 should be treated the same. This will make a strong statement,” Tikait had said earlier.

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