No Complaints Against SKM: Yogendra Yadav Suspended From Farmers Union | Exclusive
Social activist Yogendra Yadav said on Saturday that he had “no complaints” or “no grudges” against Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the highest body of farmers’ organizations opposed to the three agricultural laws, for having suspended him from the farmers’ organization for a period of months.
Samyukt Kisan Morcha on Thursday suspended social activist Yogendra Yadav from the Farmers’ Corps for a month after meeting with family members of a BJP worker who was killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence. The farmers’ organization suspended Yogendra Yadav for a month because he refused to apologize for this act.
In an exclusive interview with India Today TV, Yogendra Yadav spoke in detail about his suspension from SKM and other issues related to farmers’ agitation against farm laws.
Yadav said the SKM needs to find more creative plans and the need to take the agitation of farmers beyond four-five states, including Punjab and Haryana, to create “multiple pressure points” for bring the Union government to the negotiating table.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Q. Do you think that you were punished very severely by SKM compared to other SKM members such as Gurman Singh Chadhuni who were suspended in the past?
Yogendra Yadav: I have no hard feelings or complaints (against the decision to suspend SKM). Whatever the collective judgment, that’s fine. I will comply with it. I wouldn’t waste my time comparing who got what punishment, why did I get this (long) punishment. In a larger picture in the movement of this scale, these are secondary issues. And I think it’s important not to get distracted by these little issues. My suspension is also a secondary problem. It would be a shame if a movement like this was distracted by side issues.
It is absolutely important to maintain the unity of this movement and this is where I am focusing.
Q. So you don’t want to comment on the disparity in the sanction that was imposed on you and the actions taken against other heads of operations that were disciplined by SKM.
Yogendra Yadav: It’s up to others to judge, it’s not something I should accede to.
Q: After the January 26 violence at Fort Rouge, the agitation among farmers has not progressed. Why is that ?
Yogendra Yadav: It would be wrong to say that the movement has not progressed. Yes, there is no progress in negotiating with the government.
The movement has progressed. I think the response to (Rakesh) Tikait’s attempts to eject it on January 28th gave the movement a huge boost. The government tried to kill the movement and it failed. The response to the mahapanchayats of farmers across the country is a big boost to the movement. So we moved forward.
I think that so far there are three achievements of this movement: First, the farmers have regained their self-respect. Second, the farmers realized they had political clout. And third, the farmers have achieved a unity which is unmatched in the history of the country.
The problem is that we haven’t made progress on the three (firm) laws. It is because the government has been so stubborn. And the Prime Minister has made it a matter of prestige – of not giving in to farmers. This is where we are stuck.
Q. But you have been in the streets for a year not to broaden the base of the movement, but rather to ensure the dismantling of the three agricultural laws. And there is no progress in this direction. Don’t you think there is something missing within the movement for which you are failing to bring the central government to the negotiating table or to pressure it to accept your demands?
Yogendra Yadav: Yes one thing is missing is the kind of intensity that we have achieved in Haryana, Punjab, western UP and eastern Rajasthan is not there in many other states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. But please remember, no movement in the history of this country has ever had this kind of uniform presence across the country. The movements are always irregular.
Despite this, the movement put enormous pressure on the leaders of the BJP. Ask any BJP leader – in off-camera conversations – whether they would accept the pressure they are facing as a result of the farmer movement. Pressure is therefore mounting on the leaders of the ruling party. Any other less undemocratic prime minister would have already given in.
Q: But do you agree that SKM lacks innovative or creative ways to bring government to the negotiating table?
Yogendra Yadav: We can always do better than what we do. We can always think of more creative ways to pressure the government and engage more people.
There are two major shortcomings of this movement: One is our inability to involve the working class, ordinary labor. The (amendments) to the Essential Products Law would hit them. And the second is that we have insufficiently mobilized the urban middle classes which could play an essential role.
Q. SKM strongly criticized the violence that took place in Lakhimpur Kheri. Farm leaders met with family members of farmers who were killed in the violence. However, when a person is killed with an ax at the Singhu border, the SKM’s response appears to be the opposite. Not a single prominent SKM leader has met the bereaved members of Lakhbir Singh’s family. No compensation to the family was announced, no condolences were offered. Do you see the dichotomy in the responses from senior SKM leaders?
Yogendra Yadav: This is a recent incident and we are still responding to it. We are no one to announce the compensation. But in principle, yes – we should share in anyone’s grief or mourning. Especially when someone’s death is – somehow associated with Morcha.
Q: Did SKM make a mistake in not accepting the offer made to it by the central government months ago? Because after the negotiations stalled, all we have seen is that the SKM is organizing events after events with no concrete results and no resolution on agricultural laws.
Yogendra Yadav: I do not think it was a blunder because the government made an offer that no farm organization could have accepted. It was therefore rejected unanimously. I thought the government’s offer was the start of serious negotiation. So indeed, what happened in the first ten rounds (of meetings between SKM and central government officials) was not a negotiation at all. It was not until the 11th round that negotiations began. If it had been followed in a spirit of negotiation, we would have achieved something.
Unfortunately, the government did not seriously want to follow through. The negotiations were blocked because the government or rather the Prime Minister – personally – put an end to them. I know, for sure, that many BJP leaders, ministers and even bureaucrats desperately want a solution. In fact, they offered the solutions to the Prime Minister. And there are many packets (negotiation or resolution) going around and these could lead to serious negotiation. But unfortunately what we are hearing is that the Prime Minister has put a stop to these developments. Because he sort of feels his prestige would take a hit if he was seen to take a step back.
Q: And do you think something like Mission Uttar Pradesh can cause the government to reconsider its position?
Yogendra Yadav: Mission UP was supposed to be that. And it’s always an attempt because we think the UP matters to them. Developments there will make a difference. So yes, that can be a pressure point.
But in a movement like this, you have to think about several pressure points. We don’t know which one ultimately works. I said there should now be more attention to taking the movement beyond the four-five states. Because the resulting pressure will make all the difference.
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