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Split in BKU Risk Farmer Unions in Malwa District

Four unions with Left leanings in the Malwa region have split, with younger second-rung leaders expressing resentment over the misuse of funds collected during the farm movement and the conduct of leaders in using the union platform for individual gains.

Stuti Das
Splits in these farmer unions have raised concerns about their ability to effectively represent the interests of farmers
Splits in these farmer unions have raised concerns about their ability to effectively represent the interests of farmers

The ongoing protests by farmers in India against three central farm laws have taken a new turn, with several of the leading farmer unions facing a split. The protests, which began in 2020, have seen farmers from various parts of the country come together to demand the repeal of the new laws, which they argue will leave them vulnerable to exploitation by big corporations.

The latest spate of splits began with the BKU (Rajewal) last year, which saw the formation of the Quomi Kisan Union. Since then, three other unions have also split, including the BKU (Sidhupur), which led to the formation of the BKU (Malwa), and the BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan), which saw the formation of the BKU (Ekta Azad).

Most of these splits have been led by younger second-rung leaders, who have expressed their discontent with the way the protests have been conducted and the conduct of the leadership. They have accused the leaders of misusing funds collected during the protests and using the union platform for personal gains.

The split in the BKU (Ugrahan) was particularly significant, as it is the largest farmer union in the country. The division was led by Jaswinder Singh Longowal, who was once considered the successor to the union's president, Joginder Singh Ugrahan. The Longowal-led group has named its faction the BKU (Ekta Azad) and has received significant support from farmers in Sangrur and Patiala.

The most recent split came in the form of the BKU (Dakonda), with former vice-president Manjit Singh Dhaner leading the breakaway group. Dhaner has accused the leadership of being hand in glove with the government during negotiations over the new laws, and he and Gurdeep Singh Rampura were thrown out of the union for "anti-union" activities. Dhaner's faction has now "expelled" five leaders of the parent body, including president Buta Singh Burjgill.

The splits in these farmer unions have raised concerns about their ability to effectively represent the interests of farmers in their ongoing struggle against the farm laws. Some have criticized the younger leadership for airing their grievances in public and have called for the unions to resolve their issues in-house.

The ongoing farmer protests have been a major challenge for the Indian government, which has been accused of ignoring the concerns of farmers and siding with big corporations. The splits in the farmer unions are likely to complicate matters further, as it may be harder to negotiate with a fragmented group of leaders with conflicting interests. The situation remains uncertain, and it is unclear how the splits will affect the ongoing farmer protests in the country.

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