Two types of Hindus in India now, Nagpuriya and Bharatiya: Rakesh Tikait

Farmer leader asserts that Lord Ram remains a matter of faith for Indians and his name should not be used for political gain

BKU leader Rakesh Tikait (second from left, photo courtesy @harvirpanwar/X)
BKU leader Rakesh Tikait (second from left, photo courtesy @harvirpanwar/X)


Prominent farmer and Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait on Tuesday said the BJP and RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) have divided Hindus of the country into two categories of 'Nagpuriya and Bharatiya Hindus', asserting that Lord Ram remains a matter of faith for Indians and his name should not be used for political gain.

He also alleged that the RSS and BJP will capture temples in the villages. "Ram is a matter of faith for us. Ram is in our hearts. No one takes the name of Ram more than people in the villages. They still say 'Ram Ram' — not namaste and pranaam — when they greet each other," Tikait said in an exclusive interview to PTI.

"Why are they linking Ram with politics? A Hindu, who is not supporting the BJP, can they not go to the Ram temple? They can go," he said. "One should think if they are Nagpuriya Hindu or Bharatiya (Indian) Hindu. Will the certificate of being a Hindu come from Nagpur?" he asked, in a reference to the RSS headquarters in Nagpur, Maharashtra.

The prominent Jat leader, a key face of the 2020-21 farmer protests which resulted in the withdrawal of three farm laws, rued that some farmers are also "becoming Nagpuriya Hindus". He, however, said the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya is no longer an issue in the elections. "Caste-based issues are bigger issues in this election. It has happened after a long time that people are thinking on caste lines. Religion is not working this time," he said.

On the BJP targeting 370 seats on its own and 400-plus for the NDA (National Democratic Alliance), Tikait quipped that the BJP may come up with a new slogan of 'one day, one seat' to win 365 seats. "The target of 370 seats is linked with Article 370. They also want to show they can win more seats than their allies. Is it not like match-fixing?

"If they are confident of getting more than 400 seats, what is the need for elections? Introduce a policy for renewal (of government), why spend so much on holding elections? People are opposing them, no one goes to their meetings, and they are talking of crossing 400," he said. "Where are they getting these seats from? Does it not feel like there is some manipulation?" Tikait asked, echoing the allegation levelled by several Opposition parties.

The BJP has claimed that Opposition parties are making false allegations of EVM tampering as they know they will be defeated in the elections. Tikait, however, claimed that people are not voting for the BJP, but the party may still win as he alleged manipulation in the voting process.

He also claimed that the BJP today is no longer just a political party, and has become a front for rich industrialists who are out to grab farmers’ lands. “Farmers ka moh bhang ho gaya hai, lekin wo hataash nahin hain (farmers are disillusioned but have not lost hope). They’ll cast their votes and come back to join the protest,” he said, when asked whether farmers and the Jat community were disillusioned with all political parties including the BJP, Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, and Rashtriya Lok Dal.

Tikait stressed that neither he nor his outfit had supported the BJP in 2014, though they may have backed some individual candidates. He also said at the time, the BJP as the main opposition party had made many promises to farmers, and there was hope that they would bring some change.

“When a party is in opposition, they raise people’s voices. When the Congress was in power, we were opposing them. They (BJP) made many promises, they used to be with us in the meetings,” he said. “Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Rajnath Singh, participated in our meetings several times. They even shared the stage with us.

"The opposition had a major role in pushing through the Land Acquisition Act (Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013). We thought a better government would come, we did not oppose anyone, we went with the people,” he said.

Alleging possible manipulation in the elections by the ruling party and local administration, Tikait said, “This happened in the UP Assembly polls, they would have won less than 80 seats, but officially they got 255."

Asked if he is talking about EVM manipulation as alleged by some opposition parties, Tikait said, “What is the need to manipulate EVMs? Has there ever been a recount of an EVM? After losing, a candidate has three options — they can go to the Election Commission, but they don’t do that. The second way is to go to court, but they don’t go to court. The third option is to go to the BJP headquarters to join and they use the third option.”

Tikait further said a "neta bharti abhiyan" (campaign to induct leaders) is in full swing in the BJP. “There are three types of joinings. The first category is of those happening over breakfast. They say we don’t want anything except respect. The second ones join after lunch. They have greed as well, there are businesses to run.

“The third category is those who join in the night, they are made to join by force. If the king wants you to come to his side, you will have to go. Joinings are open, one can join the way they want,” he quipped.

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