Punjab farmers and other groups that were part of the movement to repeal the three farm laws are now training in the Congressional government led by Charanjit Singh Channi in the Punjab to solve their long-standing problems.
The pressure on the government is expected to peak as the model code of conduct is implemented for the elections scheduled for February. Contrary to the belief that Channi’s Congress was well positioned in relation to the others, the party, it seems, will have a lot of explanations to give when it arrives on the ground for the campaign.
Protesters continue to target state toll plazas as toll fees have been skyrocketed after the siege was lifted at the borders. They stress that toll stations will only be allowed to operate when the increased charges are removed. They are also demanding that toll station employees receive their salary for the year the toll stations were not operating due to the protests.
A group of leaders from Punjab’s Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), including Hardev Sandhu, Harinder Lakhowal, Prem Singh Bhangu and Kirpa Singh, said after a meeting in Ludhiana on Saturday: “The toll booths should also reinstate employees instead of carry out new recruitments from outside. . “
The Punjab’s farmers’ unions had come together for a brainstorming session to decide on their future course of action. The above-mentioned representatives raised the very important issue of the withdrawal of the registered cases against farmers in Punjab, Chandigarh and elsewhere.
“When we last met, Channi promised to instantly start the process in that direction. Since the cases registered in Chandigarh do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Punjab, it was decided to bring the case before the Governor who is also the administrator of the Union territory. When such cases are not withdrawn after the displacements, they continue to linger in court and act as a discouragement, ”the farmers’ representatives said.
“The government must also resolve the issue of loan waivers that had been promised before the last polls. It was promised that loans, whether institutional or not, would be canceled and nothing has been done so far, ”they added.
Farmers’ organizations have also put their weight behind various contract and day workers from different departments who are protesting for the regularization after having completed several years of service. The state has witnessed a series of unrest on this issue.
Narayan Dutt of Inquilabi Kendra Punjab told this reporter: “This is a major decision and lots can be mined from the government if the employees have the support of the farmers.”
Farmers’ organizations also demand that a regular power supply be provided to tillers during the day and that the exorbitant bill that farmers receive for using their motors be rationalized.
They also demand that land acquired by the government in the past that is not in use be denotated and returned to its original owners. At the same time, they demand compensation at the market rate for land acquired for infrastructure development, mainly for road construction.
Amid reports that peasant leader Gurnam Singh Chadhuni was announcing political attire and considering challenging the Punjab polls, Punjab union representatives who met on Saturday said it was Chadhuni’s individual decision. .
“We do not side with any political party and we will fight with the people”, they declared while affirming that the emphasis is now placed on the fact that peasant organizations remain united. They said their role in the context of the Punjab elections will be decided at the next round of meetings.
Meanwhile, groups representing the agricultural workforce which mainly includes Dalits are leading a parallel movement to safeguard their interests. They announced that they would protest the government and show black flags to Channi, his ministers and MPs wherever they went. Sanjha Mazdoor Morcha executives announced that Dharnas would stand outside tehsil offices statewide on December 28, 29 and 30.
Their demands revolve around land rights. “Whether it is the previous Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) -Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance or the current congressional regime, the issue of granting five plots of marla to the landless has not was addressed despite the existence of a provision in the Panchayati Raj Law and no economic burden for the government since the land is already available. Channi had promised with fanfare that people would light Diwali lamps on their own plots. The promise turned out to be empty. The state has seen women protesting with lamps, ”said one of the leaders, Tarsem Peter.
He further pointed out that no attempt has been made to ensure transparency of Gram Sabha procedures through videography for the implementation of Panchayat programs.
The farm labor force demanded the distribution of surplus land, saying the issue had not been revisited since the land cap laws came into force.
The Channi government has drawn attention to first issuing a circular asking for data on surplus land with various people and then staying on the same track within hours.
The movement led by Zameen Prapti Sangharsh Samiti for the cultivation rights of Dalits on communal lands in the village has also gained momentum.
There is also a lot of resentment over the delay in the investigation and compensation for the Dalits who were allegedly killed by the Nihangs at the Singhu border at the height of the farmers’ movement.
“Channi quickly went to announce relief to the victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri massacre while the poor victim of Singhu’s murder continues to be denied redress and justice,” added Peter.
Dalit farm workers are also angered by the delay in action against perpetrators of atrocities committed by members of the upper castes in Masani village in Gurdaspur district.
Congress is considering playing the Dalit card by appointing Channi as chief minister replacing Captain Amarinder Singh, seems to have seen bad weather among the Dalits themselves. As Peter pointed out, “Every political force in Punjab is playing the Dalit card and Congress has been ahead of the game so far.”
It remains to be seen how he attacks both farmer organizations and farm worker groups with the polls on the horizon. These recent developments have made the political scenario in Punjab all the more fluid.