Bhupinder Singh Mann, one of the panel members appointed by the Supreme Court to resolve the deadlock on the new farm laws, recused himself from the committee on Thursday. He said that he would always stand with the farmers and Punjab.
“As a farmer myself and a union leader, in view of the prevailing sentiments and apprehensions amongst the farm unions and the public in general, I am ready to sacrifice any position offered or given to me so as to not compromise the interests of Punjab and farmers of the country,” he said in a statement, tweeted by the Bharatiya Kisan Union, one of the main farmer bodies involved in the protests.
Mann, 81, is the president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Mann) and chairperson of the All India Kisan Coordination Committee, an umbrella body of farmers’ unions.
“While I am thankful to the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India for nominating me in the 4-member committee to start dialogue with Kisan Unoons on the three laws brought in by the Central Government,” the statement added.
His decision came two days after farmer leaders refused to hold talks with the Supreme Court-appointed panel, suggesting that its members supported the legislations and were “pro-government”. Soon after the court announced the panel, it emerged that all four of the appointed members have supported the new agriculture laws in the past. Several social media users pointed out their earlier statements.
Mann, who is also a former Rajya Sabha MP, was part of a delegation under the banner of All India Kisan Coordination Committee that in December handed over a memorandum to Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, demanding that the three laws be implemented, with some amendments, according to The Hindu.
As controversy erupted over the selection of the members, Mann had said that he wanted to stay impartial, according to The Indian Express. “I don’t want to say anything on the farm laws as of now,” he told the newspaper earlier on Wednesday. “Though I am yet to get official information from SC that I am a committee member, if my name has appeared in that committee, I want to stay impartial.”