Bhupinder Singh Mann, a former MP and national president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union and chairman of the All India Kisan Coordination Committee, has recused himself from the Supreme Court-instituted 4-member committee of experts formed to study the farm laws and discuss farmers’ apprehensions on the said laws.
Mann issued a statement on Thursday, saying that being a farmer and Union leader, he has recused the offered position in view of the prevailing sentiments and apprehensions among the farmers’ unions and public regarding the three farm laws brought in by the Central government.
His statement read,
“While I am thankful to the Supreme Court of India for nominating me in the 4-member committee to start dialogue with Kisan Unions on three farm laws brought in by the Central government.”
“As a farmer myself and Union leader, in view of the prevailing sentiments and apprehensions among the farm unions and public in general, I am ready to sacrifice my position offered or given to me as to not compromise the interest of Punjab and farmers of the country. I am recusing myself from the committee, and I will always stand with my farmers and Punjab.”
On January 12, the Supreme Court had formed the committee to hold talks between the Centre and the protesting farmers to resolve the impasse over the three farm laws. Besides Mann, the members included International Food Policy Research Institute, and agriculture economist Ashok Gulati, Anil Ghanwat, President of Shetkari Sangthana, Maharashtra and Pramod Kumar Joshi, director for South Asia.
The inclusion of Mann, however, stoked a controversy among farmer unions. The farmers claimed that Mann has been in support of the agricultural laws from the beginning. Mann, however, had said he wanted to stay impartial, before being officially confirmed as one of the members of the committee by the top court.
Mann has served as a farmers’ leader for more than five decades. The union leader played a significant role in setting up the All India Kisan Coordination Committee (AIKCC). He is also one of the founding members of the Farmer Friends Association. Mann was a Rajya Sabha MP during the 1990s.