Farmer leaders target BJP in Bengal, but Left sees red, stays away

Farmer leaders target BJP in Bengal, but Left sees red, stays away

When the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, spearheading the protest at Delhi’s borders against the Centre’s farm laws, announced that it would campaign against the BJP in West Bengal, the Left parties warmed up to the SKM. After all, Hannan Mollah, general secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha and a key member of the SKM, is also a CPM politburo member.

But now that protest leaders have landed in Kolkata — among them are Balbir Singh Rajewal, Rakesh Tikait, Yogendra Yadav and Medha Patkar — the CPM has begun distancing itself from the SKM programme.

Singur and Nandigram have been chosen for the SKM mahapanchayats against the BJP, but the choice of these two venues has made the Left see red — TMC leader Mamata Banerjee’s movements there led to the end of 34 years of Left Front rule in West Bengal a decade ago.

The SKM went to Nandigram Saturday and will be in Singur Sunday.

What’s more, the SKM leaders are not going beyond their slogan of ‘No vote to BJP’ and the Left is not exactly happy. It suspects that the SKM is here to campaign not just against the BJP, but also in support of the TMC.

Hannan Mollah told The Sunday Express: “SKM came here to campaign against the BJP. Here, 23 organisations are supporting us. Many of them were present at the Ramlila Maidan yesterday (for a public meeting). And today and tomorrow’s programmes have been organised by the ‘Gurudwara Committee’ of West Bengal. We do not know how and on what basis have they organised these programmes.”

The Krishak Sabha, the farmer wing of the CPM, made it clear that it would not be there for the SKM programmes. Its state leader Amal Halder said: “We are now very busy with our election campaign. Our party has already announced the names of candidates and their campaigns have started. So, it is very difficult to be present at the SKM programme. We heard they are campaigning against the BJP. We have no problem with that.”

A senior CPM leader claimed some of the SKM leaders and their associates have been in constant contact with the TMC. “They chose Nandigram and Singur for the Mahapanchayat. It is impossible for us to support this. That is why we have told our cadre to stay away from the programme,” the leader said.

On Saturday, the SKM urged people not to vote for the BJP in the Assembly election. But it did not say who the vote should go to.

Twitter posts by the protesting farmer unions targeted only the BJP using the hashtag #NoVoteToBJP. One tweet read: “No Vote To BJP – Slogan people of Bengal are using to create awareness among people. BJP has almost ruined lives of the farmers by passing 3 farm bills & it will leave no stone unturned in taking control over Bengal…”

The fact that Medha Patkar went to the SSKM Hospital in Kolkata to visit the injured Mamata Banerjee — she was admitted there after a fall in Nandigram and the TMC alleged it was an attack — has added to Left suspicion.

On Saturday, Rakesh Tikait said people of West Bengal can vote for anybody, but not the BJP.

Yogendra Yadav said: “We are not supporting any party or organisation. But we are trying to give a lesson to the BJP.” He said if the BJP is defeated in Bengal and in the other states where polls are being held, it will be forced to repeal the farm laws.

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