However, the organisation said it will continue backing those political outfits that stand for the farmers and their rights.

A meeting of High Range Samrakshana Samithi with one person facing mikeFile Image/Courtesy: Facebook
news Kerala Local Body Polls 2020 Monday, November 23, 2020 - 14:17

High Range Samrakshana Samithi (HRSS), a farmer’s organisation based in Idukki district of Kerala, will not be contesting the local body polls, which is scheduled to be held in three phases on December 8, 10 and 14. The Samithi, formed under the Catholic church, has been active in Idukki since the 70s, raising various farmers’ issues, significantly the title deed for deserving farmers. The organisation was formally launched in 2006.

The members of the organisation had contested the 2015 local body polls. Around 70 members of the Samithi had won the local body polls in Idukki. They contested under the Samithi’s banner. The organisation backed LDF candidate Joice George in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Idukki. He won the seat. The Samithi had been at the forefront of the campaigns against the Madhav Gadgil-led Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel. Environmental concerns were widely discussed in the 2014 elections following the report of the High-Level Working Group led by Kasturirangan on the Western Ghats.

Explaining why they are not contesting this year, CK Mohanan, one of the patrons of the Samithi, told TNM, "Our aim was to address the land ownership issued of the High Range. We contested the elections at a time when we felt that those issues were not considered. Our evolution was through different phases and it was through one of those phases that both the Madhav Gadgil and Kasturirangan reports became the core discussions. Contesting the previous elections was a reflection of the people's protest. After that phase, we stepped back from that kind of political activity."

Mohanan added that the organisation has been formed not with political aims and that the members of the Samithi are in the fray this time, too, contesting for different political parties. “The Samithi will continue backing those political outfits that stand for the farmers,” he said. Mohanan had also contested the local body polls for the Kattappana Municipality in 2015.

Joice George is also the legal advisor of Samithi. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Joice took on his 2014 opponent, Dean Kuriakose of the United Democratic Front, but lost. In 2019, too, the Samithi backed Joice.

The aim of the pro-Left organisation is to get title deeds for all farmers who had migrated prior to 1997 to the hilly district. The activities of the group strengthened in the early 2000s. 

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