After achieving a historic success in their movement against three farm laws and demands for maximum retail price regulations, Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella outfit that led the movement, has state-wise expansion of the organisation among their key agendas for the future.
The SKM leadership has withdrawn the movement after over a year of protest but will meet in New Delhi on December 15 to monitor the developments related to the government’s promise made to the farmers’ leadership. Thereafter, the leadership will keep coordinating for building state-level units of the umbrella outfit. Issues concerning the expansion and consolidation of the platform are also expected to be discussed during the meeting.
“The building of the SKM itself is of historic significance. It saw the coming together of 500 organisations active in different parts of the country, having different and often contradictory interests and political and ideological affiliations. Such a platform will certainly not be disbanded,” said Hannan Mollah, who heads India’s largest farmers’ organisation, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and was part of the SKM leadership.
Mollah said that there will be a break of activities for a month or so – partly because a great victory has just been achieved after a long and arduous battle and partly because of the festive season coming. Thereafter building state-level units of SKM will be prioritised.
The SKM, as of now, has state-level formations in 10 states, such as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and West Bengal. Similar units will be formed in other states during 2022.
Mollah said that farmers’ movements have traditionally remained confined to states or smaller localities. “This was a rare example of a nationwide farmers’ movement. But since the platform has first been formed as the national level, building state units, with organisations active in those states, would not be difficult. This would help steer state-specific movements in a better way,” he said.
Punjab-based farmers’ leader Darshan Pal, another prominent face of the SKM leadership, echoed Mollah.
“It has been the sentiments and demands of all organisations that the SKM should not only continue to exit but also expand and strengthen itself. So, forming state-specific units is next on our agenda. This would help farmers press for their demands in a more organised way, not only in different states but also on issues concerning farmers across the country,” Pal, who heads the Punjab Krantikari Kisan Union told Outlook.
Pal said that there are many other issues that farmers in different parts of India are plagued with and that attempts would be made to replicate the SKM’s model in those movements also.
While there is the possibility of some of the farmers’ leaders joining politics in the months to come and eventually contest elections, the majority of SKM leadership are also not in favour of any of it leaders joining politics, one of the organisers said.
The organiser argued that the non-political nature of the platform helped it script such a historic victory and that this nature of the organisation should not be distorted. However, there are others who cite the example of Hannan Mollah, a former eight-time MP and currently a member of the CPI(M)’s politburo, its the highest decision-making body. This is one issue that is likely to create some differences among the leadership.
However, SKM leaders said that since they have dealt with greater differences during the movement and found solutions, “all differences arising within the platform in future would be appropriately dealt with.”