New Delhi: Bhartiya Kisan Union’s national president Bhupinder Singh Mann has footed down from the Supreme Court-appointed panel to look into the Centre’s controversial farm statutes, asserting he did not aspire to “compromise farmers’ interests”. His conclusion arrived a day ahead of the next round of dialogues between the government and the farmers. The issue will now go back to the court for further edicts.
A statement from Mr Mann today read: “As a farmer myself and a Union leader, in view of the prevailing sentiments and apprehensions amongst farm unions and the public in general, I am ready to sacrifice any position offered or given to me so as not to compromise the interests of Punjab and farmers of the country.”
Bhupinder Mann, who heads his faction of the BKU, was part of the four-member committee established by the top court on Tuesday to commence a discussion with the farmers and the government and propose a solution 50-day protest going on on the peripheries of the national capital.
Nevertheless, farmers’ groups had opposed the committee, asserting that their members were already favouring farm laws and condemned the government of planning the subject.
Mr Mann is one of the few farm union leaders to have emerged favouring the Centre’s new farm laws. He was part of a faction of farmers that came across Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar in December.
“Bhupender Mann’s organisation BKU sacked him that’s why he has resigned. He used his position for political mileage,” said Rajinder Singh Deepsinghwala, a Sanyukt Kisan Morcha member.
The protesting farmers, he said, are glimpsing the resignation as a “small victory” as it has “discredited the committee formed by the Supreme Court”.
Besides Mr Mann, the committee comprised Dr Parmod Kumar Joshi, an agricultural economist who is also the Director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute; Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices and Anil Ghanwat, the chief of Shetkari Sanghatana. They in stories jotted down in the media have articulated impressions in favour of the farm laws.
Mr Mann was provided with a Rajya Sabha seat by the VP Singh government in 1990 when farmers’ uprisings were outlawed in Punjab. Mann’s decision to approve the proposal led to a split in the BKU. His son, Gurpratap Singh Mann, is a member of the Congress party. The party’s government in Punjab created him a member of the Punjab Public Services Commission.