The expulsion of Bhupinder Singh Mann from his own farm union – the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Mann) – was waiting to happen and his nomination to the Supreme Court-appointed committee on farm laws became the last straw, if leaders from the outfit are to be believed.
The Punjab unit of BKU (Mann) Thursday removed Mann from the union and also said it had no ties with the All India Kisan Coordination Committee (AIKCC) that he heads. The outfit also dropped Mann from its name saying it will be henceforth known as BKU (Punjab). The move came on the day Mann recused himself from the four-member panel appointed by the apex court.
Baldev Singh Mianpur, president of BKU (Punjab), said: “The union was upset with him over his reaction to his appointment to the SC-named panel. He told me that it was a proud moment for him and that he would talk about the welfare of Punjab farmers and bring something good for the state. We told him that none of the protesting unions want any committee. We want a repeal of the laws, hence being part of any such committee was not required”.
Mianpur said that though Mann eventually recused himself from the panel, but the decision came too late.
“Moreover, we had been ignoring his actions since the very beginning (of the protests). Our Punjab outfit has units in 12 districts and they all have been part of the ongoing protests. Our farmers are at Delhi borders, but he, despite being the national president of the outfit, was quiet over the issue. Later, he wrote to Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in favour of laws. In December, AIKCC too extended support to Union government over farm laws. Mann was not part of the delegation that met the Union ministers. We asked him whether the AIKCC was consulting him before extending support as he was its chairman, but he did not give any satisfactory reply. We kept ignoring him, but couldn’t tolerate anymore…”.
Surjit Singh Kaddgill, vice-president of BKU (Punjab) said, “It seems he was hand in glove with the Centre because of which he never participated in any protest dharna in Punjab.”
BKU has district units in Ludhiana, Fazilka, Tarantaran, Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Moga, Muktsar, Mansa, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur and Amritsar, said Saraj Singh Brahamke, press secretary of BKU (Punjab).
Netar Singh Nagra, also vice-president of BKU (Punjab) said as many people had formed unions after breaking away from the BKU, which was originally formed in 1980. “This outfit was named after Mann. But now have removed Mann from our union and it is now BKU (Punjab). We have no link with the national body of BKU,” Nagra said.
Mann had remained a Rajya Sabha member from 1990 to 1996 and his union had also announced support for Congress in 2012 and 2017 Vidhan Sabha polls and in 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Punjab.
His son Gurpartap Singh Mann is a Congress member.
On Wednesday, Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal had claimed that that names of the two of the four members in the SC appointed committee panel – Mann and Ashok Gulati – were recommended by Punjab CM Captain Amarinder.
Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar, however, told The Indian Express, “It is a sarkari committee and people who are already pro-farm laws, should step down. It is a welcome step from Mann. He has proven himself to be a conscientious person. I hope the other members who have openly favoured these laws will take a cue from Mann and recuse themselves from the committee”.
The Aam Admi Party, meanwhile, claimed said Mann’s recusal from the panel at the instance of Punjab CM proved that Amarinder was working in collusion with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In a statement, AAP state president Bhagwant Mann said that Amarinder’s statement that he had called Mann and asked him to come out of the committee, proved that he was in collusion with PM and only under an agreement with him, the farm leader was included in the four-member committee.
Mann said that when the farmers refused to appear before the committee, Amarinder changed his stance and took his man out. “Mann should now clarify whether he decided to come out of the committee after listening to his heart or at the behest of Captain,” he added.
“Now, the real face of Captain government and Congress has been revealed to the public. People have now understood how Captain played a double role on the black laws, in connivance with the Modi government,” said Bhagwant Mann.
Bhagwant Mann said that Captain had assured that a legal battle would be fought against the black laws, but despite a large army of lawyers, no legal action has been taken so far. “Captain has entered into an agreement with the Modi government to save his son from the ED,” he added.