RLD chief extends support to BKU leaders following UP Police attempt to clear out protest site at Ghazipur

Ajit Singh’s son Jayant Chaudhary said the RLD chief had told Naresh Tikait and Rakesh Tikait that this was a larger issue and for farmers’ welfare there was a need to unite beyond any affiliations

Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Chaudhary at Ghazipur border. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@ANI
Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Chaudhary at Ghazipur border. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@ANI

Ashlin Mathew

Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh has extended support to Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) president Naresh Tikait and spokesperson Rakesh Tikait, said his son and RLD vice president Jayant Chaudhary. This comes in the backdrop of extensive police movement at Ghazipur border where BKU farmers have been protesting.

“My father spoke to both Naresh Tikait and then Rakesh Tikait of BKU. He told them that whatever has happened in the past is the past. This is a larger issue and for farmers’ welfare we need to unite beyond the affiliations we have. Both Naresh and Rakesh appreciated the gesture,” said Chaudhary.

The Tikait brothers, who are the sons of the farmer leader Mahendra Singh Tikait, have been leading the protestors camping at Ghazipur border for two months now. They have been demanding a rollback of the contentious farm laws brought by the Centre in September last year.

There was a buzz all through on Thursday that the protesters would be evicted from the Ghazipur border by the police.

“You have to look at this in the background of what happened on Wednesday night at Baraut, where the authorities drove away farmers who were sleeping. The SDM claimed it was peaceful and people voluntarily withdrew from the agitation. But we have videos to show that that the police baton-charged farmers in the middle of the night. The administration is saying that NHAI work was being impeded, but the nearest toll is 14 kms from the site of the agitation,” pointed out Chaudhary, who had met the protesting farmers at Singhu border in December.

There was fear that the same thing might happen in Ghazipur, he added.

There were reports that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had held meetings in Lucknow where he had given instructions to put an end to farmer agitations in the state within 24 hours.

“It concerned all of us, so Chaudhary saab reached out to Tikait. He understood the gravity of the situation. Politically, RLD stands for farmers and workers welfare.”

Rakesh Tikait had earlier said that he had voted for the party in power currently – Bharatiya Janata Party. “He is a voter in Muzaffarnagar, and my father was the candidate from area. This means he voted for the opposing candidate. That does not matter now. At the moment, farmers’ welfare is the issue and that is the topmost priority. There is a need to express solidarity in these tough times,” contended Chaudhary.

Ajit Singh lost the elections from Muzaffarnagar in 2019.

“It’s important that we band together. Anyone who is not for farmers today is not a people’s representatives. There are Panchayat elections soon in Uttar Pradesh, so why should people support them?” said Chaudhary, who was the Mathura MP from 2009 to 2014.

Asked about Dushyant Singh Chautala and Indian National Lok Dal’s support to the BJP in Haryana, Chaudhary said that hard questions should be asked of everyone who is aligned with the BJP for their convenience, for their share of power.

“This is a social agitation. With majoritarian governments like this who have stubborn attitudes towards policy, political action is more important than agitational action. As voters we need to engage with the issues around us. Unless we can get farmers to unite and vote on farmers’ issues, I do not think it is going to lead to much,” said Chaudhary.

He underscored that it was possible to do so. “Politics is always about identity in India. Why should Hindu-Muslim identity trump the farmer identity?”

The former MP asserted that someone needed to wake up the ‘sleeping emperor’. He needed to be told that when policies are made, consultations need to be made, added Chaudhary.

“We have never seen laws being made in this country in such a hurry. Our Parliament has always lagged behind while making laws. Agitations have demanded for laws. Here no one asked for a law and yet we got a law. Now, they are telling people that it is for their benefit.”

People haven’t accepted the three farm laws and they are agitating against it. “Yet, the farmers are being told that they represent a certain lobby, so they won’t be listened to. This is nothing but arrogance of the ruling party and no one has the might within the BJP to appeal to all the MPs in the party who come from rural areas to take a stand.

Governments come and go. When have we seen an agitation which is so large scale and still peaceful to a large extent? This is a unique time in history,” added Chaudhary.

Yet, Chaudhary believes that BJP is unlikely to learn from this. They are travelling down a narrow path, he contended, where they are trying to prove that either these agitators are not farmers or they are outsiders.

“Even on Thursday, a BJP MP went to Ghazipur to support the police action against farmers. “UP police lat bajao” was trending on Twitter all day. Do you think it was trending without BJP support? Not possible,” said Chaudhary, who is the grandson of former Prime Minister and farmer leader Chaudhary Charan Singh.

“UP is an extremely coercive state right now, whether it is the government policy or the filing of FIRs against journalists who write facts. The whole administration has become one with the party. We have never seen such politicisation of the administration before. But, there is a backlash. So, if the opposition organises effectively, this can become an important issue,” added Chaudhary.

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