Farmers’ body Bharatiya Kisan Union, which was at the forefront of the 13-month long agitation against the three agriculture laws since November 2020, split on Sunday, The Indian Express reported.

A group of farmer leaders, led by Rajesh Singh Chauhan, have formed a separate outfit called the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Arajnaitik). The Hindi word arajnaitik means apolitical.

At an event held in Lucknow to mark the death anniversary of Bharatiya Kisan Union founder Chaudhary, Mahendra Singh Tikait, leaders of the new group said they were not happy with the political statements made by Rakesh Tikait during the farm law protests and the recent Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, The Indian Express reported.

Rakesh Tikait is the son of Mahendra Singh Tikait.

Later on Sunday, the Bharatiya Kisan Union announced that seven leaders, including Chauhan, have been expelled from the farmers’ body. In a tweet, Tikait described the seven leaders as “anti-farmer elements”.

On November 19, after more than a year of protests against three agriculture laws, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that the legislation will be repealed. Parliament then withdrew the three farm laws on November 29.

Since November 2020, thousands of farmers had been holding sit-in demonstrations at the borders of the national Capital. The agitation had begun with the demand of repeal of the three laws.

The farmers were concerned about the new laws, which would have opened up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies. The Centre, however, had claimed that the laws would give farmers more access to markets and boost production through private investment.

On Sunday, Harinam Singh, a leader of the new outfit, said that the founder of the Bharatiya Kisan Union and Rakesh Tikait’s father Mahendra Singh Tikait held the view that that if the farmers’ body approaches the government with 10 demands and even if four of them are accepted, the agitation should be withdrawn.

“But what is the situation today?” Chauhan questioned, according to The Indian Express. “The agitation continued for 13 months and the laws were repealed after that. And yet people are not satisfied. It is a big issue.”