Former MP and national president of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Mann) Bhupinder Singh Mann, 81, whose inclusion in the committee named by the Supreme Court stoked controversy among farmer unions, has recused himself from the four-member panel.
In a statement, Mann said, “While I am thankful to the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India for nominating me in the 4 member committee to start dialogue with Kisan Unions on the three laws brought in by the Central Government.
“As a farmer myself and a Union leader, in view of the prevailing sentiments and apprehensions amongst the farm unions and the public in general, I am ready to sacrifice any position offered or given to me so as to not compromise the interests of Punjab and farmers of the country, I am recusing myself from the committee and I will always stand with my farmers and Punjab,” he said.
There was a feeling among the leaders of BKU (Mann) that when the agitators had refused to appear before the committee, what was the point left in being part of the panel. “He had to give the resignation when they (agitators) had stated they didn’t consider the panel anything. In such a scenario what type of report the committee would have submitted to the Supreme Court,” said a leader of BKU (Mann).
Mann was not available for comments. However, his close associate and his farm outfit’s Haryana unit president Guni Prakash told The Indian Express that they stand by his decision. “We are in support of three farm laws as we are in the favour of the open market. The government says there should be “one nation-one market” but we say there should be “one world-one market,” said Prakash, who has been associated with Mann since 1987.
“The current mandi system is a loot tantra and the farmers should be allowed to opt the open market that’s why we support three farm laws,” he added.
However, after the formation of the panel, Mann had stated, “I don’t want to say anything on the farm laws as of now. Though I am yet to get official information from SC that I am a committee member, if my name has appeared in that committee, I want to stay impartial.”
A resident of Batala district of Punjab, Mann was an independent member of the Rajya Sabha from 1990 to 1996. In a bid to end the ongoing impasse over the new farm laws, the Supreme Court Tuesday suspended the implementation of the three farm laws until further notice, and also decided to set up a committee comprising experts to hear the parties and understand the ground situation.
Will not resign from the committee: Ghanwat
Anil Ghanwat, president of the Shetkari Sanghatana and another member of the SC-appointed panel, said he will never resign from the committee. “This is a golden opportunity for the country to fix an agricultural policy and all farmers should come together to formulate the same, “he said.
Speaking to The Indian Express over phone, Ghanwat said he wishes to thank the farmers from Punjab and Haryana whose movement built up this momentum. “Prior to this farmers were taken for granted. It’s only now they are being taken seriously,” he said.
He said he will continue to be on the committee till the Supreme Court decides otherwise. (input by Parthasarathi Biswas)