On back foot, SSM sticks to decision on contesting polls

Ruchika M Khanna

Chandigarh, January 16

Notwithstanding their expulsion from the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), farmer unions comprising the Balbir Singh Rajewal-led Sanyukt Samaj Morcha (SSM) have decided to go ahead with their political debut.

Though SSM leaders admit the expulsion from the SKM could dent their chances, they say it is too late to call off their decision to contest the elections. A meeting of the SSM was held in Ludhiana today to discuss on the second list of candidates, and also the outcome of the decision taken by the SKM.

The issue of safeguarding the SSM’s image was also reportedly discussed, post the allegations levelled by AAP about the BJP-led Centre being at the back of a recent decision of the EC that would help the SSM register as a political party.

The AAP has accused the BJP of trying to divide voters through this decision of tweaking the number of days required to register a political party from 30 days to seven.

With the farmer unions being in the fray, 20 per cent Jat Sikh votes will get divided among the SSM, AAP and SAD. Since other parties are banking on the consolidation of Hindu and Dalit votes to work to their advantage, a fragmented Jat Sikh vote will only work to their advantage.

Sources in the SSM say a few of the farmer union leaders, who have not joined the SSM, tried to intervene on their behalf with the SKM, requesting them to reconsider their decision of expelling the SSM for four months, but the SKM has refused to relent.

Joginder Singh Ugrahan, president, BKU Ekta Ugrahan, told The Tribune the decision would not be rolled back, as the mandate was given to all members of the SKM at its launch that they would not use the platform for any political purpose. “All unions who have decided to contest will have to leave the SKM,” he added.

On back foot, SSM sticks to decision on contesting polls