With in two days after being appointed by the Supreme Court as part of a four-member committee to resolve the deadlock between protesting farmers and the Central government, Bhartiya Kisan Union president Bhupinder Singh Mann today recused himself from the same on the grounds that he will not compromise with the interest of farmers and Punjab.
The decision comes just a day before, protesting farmers and the Centre is all set to hold their 9th round of negotiations at 12 noon tomorrow.
Mann, in a statement said he is ready to sacrifice any position to prevent farmers interest from being compromised as farmer unions and political parties have raised doubts over the composition of the panel.
Welcoming, the step taken by him, the protesting farmers said it is a moral victory for their protest and invited him to join the protest along with other farmers.
“This is moral victory for the protesting farmers and we invite Mr Mann to join the protest,” Rakesh Tikait, President of Bhartiya Kisan Union said.
Yogendra Yadav, founder of Jai Kisan Andolan which is one of groups participating in the protest, meanwhile, also called upon another member of the four-member panel, eminent agriculture economist Ashok Gulati to tender his resignation on the ground that he cannot be umpire in a match where he has taken part as a player.
“We can agree to disagree. But, I hope he (Gulati) would agree that he cannot be an umpire in a match where he has taken part as a player,” Yadav said in a tweet.
The apex court had on Tuesday stayed the implementation of the three central laws till further orders and announced the formation of a committee to hear the grievances of the farmers and the opinion of the government.
Apart from Bhupinder Mann and Ashok Gulati, Shetkari Sanghatana (Maharashtra) president Anil Ghanwat and International Food Policy Research Institute’s Pramod Kumar Joshi are the other two members of the panel.
Mann’s announcement of recusing himself from the SC-appointed committee came on a day when his organisation’s state unit decided to disassociate itself from him.
“We decided to disassociate ourselves from Mann as he did not consult with us to work as a committee member,” said BKU (Punjab) president Baldev Singh Mianpur.
Sources close to Mann said that he was facing threats and intimidation from various quarters ever since his name came as part of the panel, though there has not been any independent confirmation of the same.
Meanwhile, Mianpur claimed that Mann might have decided to change his stand after he got a whiff of their meeting.
Mann, 81, is also a chairman of the All-India Kisan Coordination Committee, which has been in favour of agriculture reforms.
He was a Rajya Sabha MP from 1990-96. He had supported the Congress in 2012 and 2017 Punjab assembly polls.
Farmers who have been camping at the Delhi borders for several weeks are demanding a repeal of the farm laws and a legal guarantee to the minimum support price for crops.
Former agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, meanwhile, also said that truly independent persons should have been appointed on the committee formed by the Supreme Court to resolve the impasse over new farm laws.
Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi also said that sooner or later, the Centre will take back the laws and it will be big victory for the farmers.