Twenty-two of the 32 farmer unions that were part of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), which led the 15-month protest along the Delhi borders against the now-repealed farm laws, on Saturday announced a new political outfit to contest the upcoming assembly polls in Punjab.

The new outfit, under the leadership of farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal, has been named Samyukt Samaj Morcha. “Ever since we won the battle at Delhi borders and came back to Punjab, the expectations of the people of Punjab from us have increased and there was a lot of pressure from them to enter into politics,” Harmeet Singh Kadian, president of the BKU-Kadian, told media persons in Chandigarh. “Currently, there are 22 unions and two unions have extended their support. Going forward more unions will join us.”

The party is preparing to contest all the 117 assembly seats of Punjab, Rajewal said.

However, people in the know told ET that the new outfit’s leaders were in touch with the Aam Aadmi Party leadership and working on an alliance formula.

Meanwhile, the announcement has brought up sharp differences among the farmer unions.

“Whoever among the unions is going to contest assembly elections, will not use the SKM name. Our organisation has decided not to contest the election as we want to remain as a strong pressure group,” said Rajinder Singh Deepsinghwala, vice president of the Kirti Kisan Union, one of the large farmer unions of the state. The biggest union, BKU Ekta Ugrahan, has already declared that it won’t contest elections.

Punjab-based farmer unions that are not part of the new outfit have called a meeting on December 31, where they are expected to take a call on the way forward.

“They shouldn’t contest elections. Our movement is non-political and is based on people’s trust. People are free to take their own call, but it will harm the movement,” Rakesh Tikait, BKU leader and one of the strong faces of the farmers agitation, told ET. “We are very clear that we are battling with the political class without going into politics. There are several unions in the SKM across the country and the SKM will continue to function.”

There is a scheduled meeting of the SKM on January 15 to review the execution of the promises by the government to the farmer unions.

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