Lucknow: The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of over 40 farmers' unions, on Monday launched 'Mission UP' at the press club in the state capital of Lucknow on the completion of eight months of the farmers’ protest against three contentious Farm Laws ahead of the assembly elections in the state next year.
The top leadership of the SKM, including Yogendra Yadav, Rakesh Tikait, Mukut Singh and Darshan Pal, released an open letter to all farmers urging them not to vote for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming elections.
Addressing the press conference, Yadav said: “Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had assured farmers that his government will purchase every single grain of wheat till farmers are interested in selling their produce. But, it was proved as empty rhetoric. According to government data, procurement of wheat in the corresponding period in 2020-21 was 308 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) in the state, and ironically total government purchase is just 56 lakh metric tonnes – which is just 18% of the total estimated production – this year. The government has not purchased a single quintal of pulses, mustard, lentil, gram and maize till date. Due to the attitude of the state government, the majority of farmers in Uttar Pradesh were forced to sell their produce below the minimum support price (MSP)," he said adding that the Centre's Agmarknet portal showed that the average rate at which wheat was bought in UP till July 20 was Rs 1,884, Rs 91 less than the MSP.
He said that after braving eight months, including a harsh winter, scorching heat and the rains, the SKM has decided to reach out to every single person and district in UP and intensify the stir. "During Mission UP, farmers from Punjab and Haryana will hit the road and organise several programmes to educate peasants; they will also organise rallies and mahapanchayats in 75 districts."
When Newsclick asked how the SKM would address the issues of farmers in the Purvanchal region, where a huge chunk of tillers are landless and unaware of the new laws, Yadav said that their volunteers, "who have been camping on the border for the last eight months, will go among farmers soon and start their campaign. They will talk about the loopholes in the laws and also address their issues such as stray animals, water supply, fertiliser, seeds, chemical and the price of electricity, which are some of the biggest concerns for these small farmers."
Yadav said that the farmers unions had never imagined that the movement would last even eight days, let alone eight months. "The movement has brought back the self-respect of farmers. Besides, the government has realised the power of farmers," he said.
Echoing similar views, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said UP would be the next major destination for the ongoing farmers' agitation and they are expected to kick off the mission with a massive 'Kisan Mahapanchayat' on September 5 in Muzaffarnagar, western Uttar Pradesh. At least 18 rallies will be held across the state against the three farm laws and in opposition of the BJP in the upcoming polls.
Warning the government that it should not take farmers for granted, Tikait warned that they would turn Lucknow into Delhi and that all roads to the state capital would "be sealed by farmers".
"We will turn Lucknow into Delhi and all roads to the state capital will be closed. UP has always been a state of agitation. Our agitation will continue until all the three laws are repealed," he said at the press conference.
Elaborating on the ordeal of farmers in the state, the BKU leader further added: "The rate at which sugarcane is bought has not been increased for four years in the state; Rs 12,000 crore are still outstanding dues of farmers. Electricity is free for farmers in many states, including Haryana and Punjab, but in UP, the power tariffs are the highest. UP is following Gujarat, which is run by the police and not by the government," he said, adding that green gram or moong growers in UP were forced to sell their crop for cheap while potato farmers had been ruined.
Senior SKM leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal said the issues faced by UP's farmers were different from those being faced by farmers in Punjab and Haryana. The stray cattle menace has created more trouble for farmers in the state. "The government has imposed cow welfare cess and taken tax for it but did not solve the issue. Their love for cows has been exposed," he said.