Rakesh Tikait blames BJP for rift in BKU (Tikait)

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson Rakesh Tikait.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson Rakesh Tikait. | Photo Credit: PTI

In a dramatic turn of events that could have socio-political ramifications in western Uttar Pradesh, the Tikait faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) faced rebellion on Sunday. The disgruntled members formed a new outfit called BKU Airajnaitk (meaning apolitical) in Lucknow, citing a lack of internal democracy and overt politicisation of the farmer organisation.

Ironically, the division happened on a day when the organisation was observing the death anniversary of its founder and perhaps the tallest farmer leader in western U.P., Mahendra Singh Tikait. Rakesh Tikait, spokesperson of the BKU, charged the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) for causing the division.

Though there are multiple factions of BKU, it was the Tikait faction that led the farmer protests against the contentious farm laws in the region. This led to its revival and observers believed that its support played a major role in the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Samajwadi Party (SP) alliance’s better performance in some districts of the sugarcane belt where the presence of the BKU and the khap was strong. It dealt a blow to the BJP’s Jat leadership in the region.

The new organisation has appointed Rajendra Singh Malik, head of the Gathawala khap, who had been pro-government even during the farmer agitation, as its chairman/ patron. It will be presided by Rajesh Singh Chauhan, a farmer leader from Fatehpur in eastern U.P., who was the vice-president of the BKU. “We had to make the decision under duress because the BKU moved away from the farmers' movement,” Mr. Chauhan said.

Mr. Malik said he didn’t support creating a disturbance in the name of the farmers’ movement. “Without the help of the Central and State governments, the life of farmers will become even more difficult,” he said.

Some of the prominent faces who have switched sides include Dharmendra Malik, a close aide of the Tikaits and the media in-charge of the BKU; and Digambar Singh, the head of the BKU’s youth wing. Mr. Singh pointed out the dynastic nature of the organisation hurt its cause.

Rajveer Singh, State vice president of the newly formed organisation, told The Hindu that when the Central government took back the farm laws, there was no point in stretching the anti-government stance further. “The BKU cadre always stood by the farmers’ cause but voted for different political parties. But before the Assembly elections, the BKU, under the Tikaits, started looking like the mouthpiece of the Opposition. It was not acceptable to us,” he said.

He said the message was conveyed to the top leadership but they continued to hobnob not just with RLD but with the ruling party in Telangana, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and the Chautala family of Haryana. He cited the presence of Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Digvijay Singh Chautala at the programme in Sisauli.

Mr. Rajveer said the new outfit had a fair representation of different caste groups and regional aspirations. "Mr. Chauhan is from east U.P., but five of seven members of the core group are from the west," he said.

On the charge of politicisation and lack of internal democracy the outfit, Mr. Tikait told The Hindu that those who wanted to leave home had to come up with some excuse. “Since the last two days we have been trying to listen to their demands, but they said they were left with no other option. It seems the government, threatened by our support among farmers, showed these people the fear of bulldozers and confiscation of their land,” he said.

Mr. Tikait said the BKU was in the process of severing links with those who have moved astray. “Some of them have worked closely with us and I wish them good luck if they want to work for the interest of farmers,” he said.

He said the organisation was registered as the BKU and the apolitical part was mentioned only in the by-laws. “If they want to call their outfit airajnaitik, we have no problem,” Mr. Tikait said.

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Printable version | May 16, 2022 12:21:27 am |