Farmers protest: Rakesh Tikait takes a dig at PM
Rakesh Tikait said that if the government tried to pull down farmers’ tents at the protest site, the farmers would set them up at police stations and the district magistrates’ office around the world

Farmers' protest: Rakesh Tikait takes a dig at PM

“Farmers will campaign in the name of the PM,” their leader Rakesh Tikait has declared quite wryly, while sitting on a months-long agitation against three contentious farm laws of the BJP government passed late last year. Tikait’s Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) on Sunday kicked off the Kisan Mahapanchayat in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar.

Seeming to mock the PM, Tikait told a media channel: “We are giving publicity to the PM only… He (Narendra Modi) is selling everything. We will tell people what all is being sold off. There will be publicity of the PM. Electricity, water, etc, are being sold off. Is it wrong to tell people these things?”

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha – comprising 40 farmer unions and leading the agitation – plans to campaign against the BJP in the UP elections next year, and also carry on the protests across India. “The second PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) is in Varanasi (Modi’s Lok Sabha seat). Panchayats will be held there as well as in Lucknow,” Tikait reportedly said.

Sunday’s stir saw a huge attendance by farmers, not just from UP, but from nearby Uttarakhand, Haryana and Punjab as well. Tikait spoke to the crowd, saying: “These people (BJP) have always worked to divide people and have been responsible for riots. We will have to stop them. We will have to work constructively. We will not give our Uttar Pradesh in the hands of those responsible for riots.”

Muzaffarnagar, the setting of Sunday’s agitation, was also the point of one such riot in 2013, which saw the involvement of politicians, and had resulted in more than 60 deaths.

Alleging that the “government is for sale”, Tikait pointed to the privatisation of PSUs. “They are selling the nation’s properties – LIC, banks – and they are being bought by Adani, Ambani. This is not just Mission UP & Uttarakhand, the nation’s democracy is in danger,” he said, lamenting that the farmers had been protesting for eight months and many had died, but “PM Modi did not even maintain a moment of silence in respect for them”.

As many as 32 farmers unions from Punjab have given September 8 as the deadline for the government to withdraw the three farm laws, failing which the farmers plan bigger protests. A nationwide bandh is also in the works this month.

Tikait said: “The struggle for Independence continued for 90 years so I have no idea for how long this agitation will run.”

Also read: Farmer dies; Tikait calls officer who ordered lathi-charge ‘sarkari Talibani’

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