Samyukta Kisan Morcha urges Bengal farmers not to vote for BJP

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(Eds: Adds details) Kolkata, Mar 12 (PTI) The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of over 40 farmers' unions, on Friday urged agriculturists and other people of West Bengal not to vote for the BJP in the upcoming elections.

The SKM said that electoral defeat will force the BJP-led government at the Centre to repeal the three farm laws.

'We are not supporting any party or telling people whom to vote for but our only appeal is that the BJP should be taught a lesson,' SKM leader Yogendra Yadav told reporters.

The SKM said that farmer leaders Rakesh Singh Tikait and Yudhvir Singh will attend the 'Kisan Mahapanchayats' to be organised in Kolkata's Bhowanipore and Nandigram on March 13 and Singur and Asansol on March 14.

Nandigram and Singur are synonymous with anti-land acquisition movements that catapulted the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC to power in 2011.

Banerjee is contesting from the Nandigram seat in Purba Medinipur district, where she will face her former aide and present BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari.

The SKM also issued a letter urging the farmers of the state not to vote for the saffron party.

The SKM, in the letter, said that a defeat in the elections will force the Centre to repeal the farm laws.

'In order to open the ears of the government to the demands of the agitating farmers, there is a need to hurt them in the elections,' he said.

Social activist Medha Patkar, while accusing the BJP of trying to 'sell the country' to a few corporates, also urged people to exercise their franchise cautiously.

Condemning the Centre for 'insulting' the farmers' stir, Patkar said even the British occupiers had not resorted to acts which the present government is indulged in.

She welcomed the passage of a resolution against the farm laws in the West Bengal assembly.

Later, speaking at the 'West Bengal Kisan-Mazdoor Mahapanchayat' at Ramlila Maidan here, Patkar alleged that the corporates are giving the BJP huge amounts as donation in electoral bonds.

'The farmers cannot afford to give such donations and so their voices are not heard,' she said.

She alleged that while the wealth of the businessmen is increasing, poor children are dying due to malnutrition.

All India Kisan Sabha leader and CPI (M) politburo member Hannan Mollah alleged that the Narendra Modi government is misleading the farmers on the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of the agricultural produce.

Accusing the Centre of being insensitive to farmers' interests and demands, farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said that the agriculturists agitating on the borders of Delhi for more than 100 days will not lift their stir till their demand for the repeal of the three farms laws are met. PTI AMR ACD ACD