Other States

BKU will remain apolitical, says Tikait

The poll pundits are watching which way the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) would tilt during the upcoming Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh. In an interview with The Hindu, Rakesh Tikait, BKU national spokesperson, said the union would remain apolitical and that he had no political ambitions. “We are farmers and not into politics. Those who will work for their interests, farmers will elect them on their own,” he said.

There are indications that the U.P. government would increase the State Advisory Price (SAP) of sugarcane soon. Mr. Tikait said the BJP would try to distract farmers before the polls. “The party promised ₹370 [per quintal] before the 2017 polls. Even if they increase the SAP after four years, the party has a lot to answer. Considering the inflation, the farmers would not settle for less than ₹425,” he said.

Refusing to take credit for mounting the farmers’ movement in western Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Tikait said the BKU would continue to work as a pressure group to keep a check on the promises made by political parties to the farmers. “The movement has given an opportunity to Opposition parties to become the face of farmers. How will it pan out, I don’t know. I have no political ambition,” he said.

Baghpat event

Describing the ritual ceremony of former Rashtriya Lok Dal president Ajit Singh in Baghpat as a “social event”, he said political meanings should not be drawn out of his elder brother and BKU president Naresh Tikait’s presence at the event last week. “You will not see me sharing the political stage with Jayant (Chaudhary) or any political leader. We pay tributes to Chaudhary Devi Lal on his birth anniversary as well but that doesn’t mean we are politically aligned with the Indian National Lok Dal.”

On the notion that the BKU cadre would put its weight behind the RLD, Mr. Tikait said there were many in the movement who would eventually vote for the BJP. “There are many who render all support to the movement but I know they will go with the BJP because of local pressures. If the government decides to increase the sugarcane price, it will benefit all farmers, not farmers of a particular caste or religion.”

However, he didn’t rule out the possibility of members of the Tikait family entering the fray. “I can guarantee only about my vote. I can’t assure you of even my wife’s.”

From raising religious slogans to talking about pensions for personnel of paramilitary forces and permanent jobs for sanitation workers, Mr. Tikait, in his speeches, gives an impression that he is seeking space in the political arena. The movement, he said, had become like a train, where different bogies represent different social classes.

“The movement has given us a platform to reach out to them and foster social amity. The Constitution gives us permission to raise religious chants. After the Muzaffarnagar mahapanchayat, Muslim farmers tolled bells in temples. Can the BJP make them do this?” he said. “We have realised the Muzaffarnagar riots were sponsored by the BJP.”

Referring to the tension between Gurjars and Rajputs over Samrat Mihir Bhoj’s statue and the mahapanchayat called by Gathwala khap of Jats in Muzaffarnagar on Sunday, Mr. Tikait said the ruling party was at it again. “They have a specialised wing that works on dividing people, while we seek to mend ties,” he said.

Mr. Tikait said farm unions were keen to talk if the government was ready to discuss a law that guaranteed the MSP to farmers. “This government lies to the public. When they put the condition that the laws would not be revoked, we said as the farm laws are currently suspended, we could talk on the MSP law, but there was no response.”

On the practicality of the MSP law in a free-market economy, he said when the business houses could put a price tag on their products and the law backs it, why can’t farmers get even an assured minimum price on their produce.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 9:33:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bku-will-remain-apolitical-says-tikait/article36676074.ece

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