Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on February 2 reached the farmers’ protest site at Ghazipur on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border where he met Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait.
The Maharashtra leader arrived at Ghazipur when security has been further tightened at the farmers’ protest site.
Mr. Raut, one of the handful people wearing a face mask, met Mr. Tikait and other protestors off the stage after reaching here around 1 p.m.
“The way vandalism unfolded here after January 26 and an attempt made to suppress the movement and Tikait, we felt it is our responsibility to stand by the farmers’ and extend support of the whole of Maharashtra, Shiv Sena and Uddhav Thackeray saahab,” Mr. Raut said.
Mr. Tikait said, “The farmers’ protest is apolitical and no politician has been given the mic or space on the stage.” A major Hindutva ally of the BJP-led NDA till 2019, Shiv Sena was one of the 19 Opposition parties which boycotted the President’s address ahead of the Budget Session on January 29 and extended support to the farmers’ agitation.
Previously leaders of Shiromani Akali Dal, Aam Aadmi Party, Congress, Rashtriya Lok Dal, Samajwadi Party, among others, visited Ghazipur, which has become the camping ground for BKU-led protestors for over two months now. Of late, thousands have converged in support of the ongoing stir against the contentious new farm laws.
Initially, farmer unions had maintained that their protests were apolitical but have lately welcomed politicians openly.
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Mr. Tikait on January 31 said the Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) had not allowed political parties in the movement against new central farm laws but took political support “only after the democracy was mocked” at protest sites.
Meanwhile, concertina wires spread further around the U.P. Gate (Ghazipur border) on February 2, while multi-layered barricading of iron and concrete structures along with nails studded on roads made sure no protestor movement towards Delhi.
The internet also remained suspended at the protest site.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting at the Delhi borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, demanding a rollback of the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The protesting farmers have expressed the apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporations.
However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring better opportunities to farmers and introduce new technologies in agriculture.