MUZAFFARNAGAR (UTTAR PRADESH):In Muzaffarnagar city in the upper Ganga-Yamuna Doab region of Uttar Pradesh, reside the Tikaits.
A family known to speak up and lead the cause for the farming community that they belong to, they are not new to the politics of the state.
The New Indian team travels from Delhi to speak to Rakesh Tikait’s only son, Charan Singh about the upcoming UP elections and mood of the farmers in Uttar Pradesh.
Tikait’s family home is an old building, or a Kothi as it is called. The living room is bedecked with memorabilia from various farmer’s movements, meetings, a sculpture of late legendary Mahendra Singh Tikait, and pictures documenting the struggles of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU).
Pride reflects in every piece of the collective on display in the room. Charan Singh’s daughter reminisces and tells us of her heartbreaking moment — when her Baba Ji (Rakesh Tikait) teared up at the Ghazipur Border on January 29 last year, his sheer helplessness at the situation that got out of hand following the riots at Red Fort on Republic Day.
Sitting beside the bust of his late legendary grandfather, a prominent farmer leader, Mahendra Singh Tikait, Charan Singh tells us, “This 2022 UP elections, common men and farmers will decide their government based on who really worked for them.”
Rooted to the ground himself, he lends an insight into the mood of the farming community of Uttar Pradesh. “Farmers are upset despite the repealing of these three draconian farm laws.” In a meeting held among Farmers Union on 15th January, the farmers decided they might start their protest on Feb 1 against the false promises made by the central government.
On November 19, last year, BKU leader Rakesh Tikait and Jai Kisan Morcha founder Yogendra Yadav had said, “The farm laws may have been repealed by the central government but farmers’ protest will be withdrawn only after the contentious legislations are repealed and a legal guarantee on minimum support price (MSP) is provided to farmers.” The farm laws repeal victory was dedicated to more than 750 farmers who died in the course of the movement and to tribals, workers, and women involved in the same.
On a recent meeting between BJP Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan and BKU chief Rakesh Tikait’s brother, Naresh Tikait, Charan Singh shares, “The meeting was not of political nature, neither did they speak about the upcoming elections. The Union Minister visited after nearly one and half years to discuss the health of Naresh Tikait as he recently got out of a surgery.” According to him, the media is a free entity and they publish as they see fit.
On being asked how current UP CM Yogi Adityanath always talks about the current government favouring the farmers and working to seek their goodwill with various schemes, including one to deposit money into accounts of sugarcane farmers, he tells us “Money has been transferred into the account of a few people. It is pre-decided as to who will benefit and where the money is to be transferred. How is it that they thought of farmers after 5 years (when their tenure is almost over)? The rate of sugarcane has gone up here but the posters being shown in Delhi say otherwise. Do people of Delhi grow sugarcane? And the money they spend on publicity and advertising, that could be used here to increase the rate of sugarcane double-fold.”
Farming-related issues aside, the farmers are in no mood to buy the excuse that the current government is focusing on bigger issues like Ram Mandir and its development, as it works for the benefits of the farmers and that the community should not be upset or impatient about it. BKU chief’s son speaks his mind: “The land is a temple for a farmer. Whenever a farmer starts any work in his field, he takes the blessings of Lord Ram first, so the temple of a farmer is his land, his field that he cultivates.”
So aren’t they worried about the return of Gunda Raj, should the SP regime make a comeback?
“Why would that happen? We had good facilities that we did not have before. Ambulance and Police used to arrive in 10 minutes. What you see and hear of the foreign lands was all possible under the previous government. BJP let the farmers sit there (homeless and in the open) for 13 months. How do we believe that the BJP supports the farmers? What about the farmers who were martyred? And those who could not go back; or were hit with tear gas and water cannons? Farmers will not forgive this government.
Does that mean the farmers are looking to ride bicycles again? He quips: “Yes, we ride bicycles too. Inflation is so high, that perhaps we need to ride the bicycle. I am sure you are aware that a lot of cycles were sold during the lockdown!” A clear hint that farmers have chosen the SP-RLD alliance government as their allies. The results will reveal the truth.
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