‘Delhi Chalo’ march: Who are the two farmer leaders leading the protest?

The ‘Delhi Chalo’ march led by two farm leaders from Punjab has entered the third day. Representatives of the protesting farmers are slated to hold a third round of talks with Union ministers Arjun Munda, Piyush Goyal and Nityanand Rai over their several demands, including a legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for all crops, at 5 pm in Chandigarh on Thursday (15 February).
Two other talks held earlier in February resulted in a stalemate, leading to farmers hitting the streets on Tuesday amid heightened security in Delhi and Haryana. Protesting farmers had camped at Delhi borders for almost a year during the 2020-21 agitation against the Centre’s now-repealed three agriculture laws. But who is behind the current stir?
Let’s take a closer look.
The farm leaders spearheading ‘Delhi Chalo’
The farmer unions leading the current protests are different from those that were at the forefront of the 2020-21 stir . More than 250 farmers’ unions under the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) umbrella and the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (non-political) have called the march to Delhi this time.
While Sarwan Singh Pandher is the coordinator of the KMM, the SKM (non-political) is led by Jagjit Singh Dallewal.
SKM (non-political) is a splinter of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) which led the 2020-21 farmers’ protest.
According to Indian Express, the KMM and the SKM (non-political) are umbrella bodies of farm unions across India. However, the Delhi Chalo march chiefly involves farmer groups from Punjab and Haryana.
Who is Sarwan Singh Pandher?
Pandher is the convener of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC) based in Punjab’s Amritsar. KMSC has a presence in 16 districts of the state, as per Indian Express.
The union was a part of the 2020-21 stir but took its own calls during the yearlong farmers’ agitation.
According to a Hindustan Times (HT) report, the 51-year-old KMSC leader belongs to the Pandher village in the Fatehgarh Churian area of the Gurdaspur district. He is a graduate who previously worked for Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ughrahan).
In December 2020, the KMSC marched towards Delhi with a convoy of over 3,000 tractors. It had also erected a separate stage at the Delhi border at Kundli.

VIDEO | Sarwan Singh Pandher, general secretary, Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, Punjab, addreses media on the farmers’ ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest march.
“We say it today that we are farmers of this country, we do not fight. We demand MSP guarantee law, implementation of… pic.twitter.com/lrw3ZNjf7f
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) February 13, 2024

Speaking to the media at the Shambhu border between Punjab and Haryana on Thursday, the General Secretary of Punjab KMSC urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene to resolve the demands of the farmers.
“We have said it earlier also. It is not a question of going ahead, we are not saying that we will break your barricade, there are two things, today there is a meeting with the Union ministers, and we would like the Prime Minister himself to talk to them and these demands should be resolved today. This will be pleasant for everyone,” ANI quoted him as saying.
ALSO READ : Farmers’ protest: What is the Swaminathan Commission? What did it recommend?
Who is Jagjit Singh Dallewal?
Dallewal is a native of Sadik village in Faridkot district. He became the president of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Sidhupur, which operates in 19 districts of Punjab, seven years back following the death of its then leader Pishora Singh Sidhupur, reported HT.
Dallewal, who comes from a farmers’ family, completed his postgraduation from Punjabi University, according to the newspaper.
He formed the SKM (non-political) in July 2022 along with other farmer leaders who were against the SKM’s move to reinstate about 16 farm unions into its fold even after they entered the Punjab Assembly polls in February that year, as per Indian Express.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (non-political) comprises 150 farmer unions. The farmers’ body joined hands with the KMM only a few months back. They gave the Dilli Chalo call on 2 January this year to stage protests at Jantar Mantar.
According to Dallewal and Pandher, they got a response from the Centre over their demands only in early February. The two farmer leaders also spearheaded talks with a delegation of Union ministers, including Piyush Goyal and Arjun Munda, on 8 and 12 February.

VIDEO | Here’s what farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal said after conclusion of a virtual meeting of farmer leaders with representatives of central government.
“A long discussion was held (on various issues) today. But our priority (in the meeting) was that normalcy should be… pic.twitter.com/NYSFPin0JL
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) February 14, 2024

Farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are protesting to demand higher prices for their crops, debt waiver, and determining crop prices according to the Dr MS Swaminathan Commission’s report among others.
With inputs from agencies

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