Bhupinder Singh Mann, the National President of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Mann) and Chairman of the All India Kisan Coordination Committee (AIKCC) on Thursday, 14 January, recused himself from the 4-member committee constituted by the Supreme Court to take over negotiations with the farmers and "solve the problem".
“Since protesting farmers have announced not to appear before the committee, there is no point in being part of it,” Mann said on Friday about his decision, speaking to ANI.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday had stayed the three controversial farm laws and formed the four-member committee to look into the grievances of the farmers.
In a statement to the press, Mann, who heads his own faction of the BKU, wrote that while he was thankful to the apex court for nominating him to the committee, he was recusing himself “in view of the prevailing sentiments and apprehensions amongst the farm unions and the public, in general”.
Mann added that he was ready to sacrifice any position offered or given to him in order to not compromise the interests of Punjab and farmers of the country.
Who Is BS Mann?
Mann, who heads his own faction of the BKU, is one of the few farm union leaders to have come out in support of the Centre’s new farm laws, against which farmers have been protesting at Delhi’s borders for a month-and-a-half now.
He was given a Rajya Sabha seat by the VP Singh government in 1990 at a time when farmers’ protests were banned in Punjab. Mann’s decision to accept the offer led to a split in the BKU. His son, Gurpratap Singh Mann, is a member of the Congress party and the party’s government in Punjab made him member of the Punjab Public Services Commission.
The presence of Mann on the panel, among others, had caused controversy, as farm groups under the banner of AIKCC, which he chairs, had met Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar in December and expressed their support for the laws.
Controversy Over Composition of Committee
Apart from Mann, the other three members appointed to the committee are Ashok Gulati, an agricultural economist, Anil Ghanwat, President of Shetkari Sangathana, and Pramod Kumar Joshi of the International Food Policy Research Institute.
What is common among them all is that they have spoken or written in support of the farm laws, leading to questions being raised about the impartiality of the committee.
The farm unions coordinating the protests at the Singhu and Tikri borders have refused to meet the committee appointed by the Court in light of the composition.
“It is clear that the Court is being misguided by various forces even in its constitution of a committee. These are people who are known for their support to the 3 Acts and have actively advocated for the same,” the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee has stated.