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Why is Rakesh Tikait going to Bengal?

March 10, 2021 08:50 IST

'Why shouldn't we talk against the BJP when it is solely responsible for bringing in these three laws by riding rough over Parliamentary procedures and norms?'
'We will talk against the BJP because it is the sole political party responsible for pushing these destructive farm laws.'


IMAGE: Rakesh Tikait addresses farmers at the Ghazipur border outside New Delhi. Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo

On March 9, the Bhartiya Kisan Union tweeted that top leaders of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha will be organising a Kisan Mahapanchayat on March 12, 13 and 14 in West Bengal -- a state that is in the midst of an eight-phase assembly election.

All the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha's top leaders -- Rakesh Tikait, Balbir Singh Rajewal, Gurnam Singh Chadhuni, Dr Darshan Pal and Yogendra Yadav among others -- will address the Kisan Mahapanchayats organised by the West Bengal Kisan Coordination Committee across three days.

Will these farmer leaders campaign against the Bharatiya Janata Party?

Prasanna D Zore/ spoke with Rakesh Tikait -- who will address two rallies in Kolkata and Nandigram on March 13 -- to find out if the farmers agitation is taking on political colours and the issues he will be raising at his two meetings.

Has the farmers agitation in Delhi and north India lost momentum after the January 26 violence at Red Fort?

Some (news television) channels and newspapers are purposely spreading such canards to create an impression in the minds of Indians that the farmers agitation is weakening. We all know at whose bidding these media are working. We all know who their masters are.

We can't control that narrative. But such lies do not concern the farmers who have steeled themselves for the battle ahead. We are prepared to continue this agitation so long as the three anti-farmer farm laws are not repealed.

If you were to come to Delhi you will still see thousands of farmers lining up along the streets for about 20-22 km in pitched tents. They are still doing dharnas and road blocks along the Singhu, Tikri, Palwal and Shahjahanpur borders abutting Delhi.l/p>

Has the farm agitation started fizzling out after violence marred the Kisan tractor morcha organised by the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha on January 26?

There is no connection between what happened on January 26 and the direction in which the farmers agitation is being fashioned after that incident.

It looks like the farmers leaders, including yourself, have changed their strategy and are now moving away from Delhi to widen the scope of your agitation?

The problem is national and widespread. There are farmers all across the country and we have to reach out to them to create awareness against these three anti-farmers bills and how they will destroy the lives and livelihoods of farmers.

How are the people reacting to your public meetings?

Now that the entire nation is facing the path of ruin, it is only natural that our movement has to reach out far and wide. These three farm laws will destroy the lives of shopkeepers, traders and ordinary Indians.

If farmers' incomes dry up, which they surely will, as an adverse impact of these laws then who will create that rural demand for consumption?

It is the farm income that circulates in the rural economy and creates demand for goods and services. The whole nation is facing certain ruin today.

We have already completed 10 meetings in Rajasthan, around eight to 10 meetings in Haryana, number of meetings in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The response has been massive.

Everywhere we find agitated farmers coming to us with their tales of sorrow and ruin. We are trying to create a national awareness about the harm these farm bills will bring upon the hapless farmers.

Wherever we go, we tell the people and farmers how these three farm laws will destroy them and the reasons why the (Narendra Damodardas) Modi government is scared to repeal these three laws. We ask them for their support to save the nation from these three dangerous farm laws.

We explain to them how big corporates will ruin the farmers of this country using these three farm laws.

We also talk about unemployment, problems faced by small scale and micro industries across the country and how and why this government is playing with their livelihoods.

Where is your plan for these public meetings going ahead?

Next we plan to hold public meetings in Balia in UP on the 10th (of March) and in Rajasthan on the 12th (of March).

On March 13, we have organised two meetings in Nandigram and Kolkata in West Bengal (where Rakesh Tikait will be speaking; he won't be present on March 12 and 14 in West Bengal).

Then on the 14th and 15th we will be holding public gatherings in Rewa and Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh and then in Ganganagar in Rajasthan on the 17th; on the 19th we will be in Odisha.

After that, for three days we will be camping in Karnataka on March 20, 21 and 22. The next day we will be in Jaipur and later again in UP and Rajasthan.

After April 5 we will decide upon the plan for states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Telangana.

Do you think your agitation is getting political colour and the farm agitation is being used for canvassing more and more against the BJP than any other political party?

Why shouldn't we talk against the BJP when it is solely responsible for bringing in these three laws by riding rough over Parliamentary procedures and norms?

We will talk against the BJP because it is the sole political party responsible for pushing these destructive farm laws.

We are going to say what we want to say and as of now it is very clear that the BJP is helping the corporates at the cost of farmers' lives and livelihoods.

Let them repeal these three laws and we will stop speaking against the BJP.

Did the Opposition enact these laws? These people (the ruling party) are selling the nation to greedy corporates.

What issues will you be discussing in your public meetings in Nandigram and Kolkata?

IMAGE: The Bharatiya Kisan Union tweet about the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha's plan for West Bengal. Photograph: Rakesh Tikait/Twitter

The issues of how farmers' land is being usurped in the name of agricultural reforms, how and why this government doesn't want to guarantee MSP for farm produce and why they are so brutally suppressing our agitation to save their corporate friends.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is the candidate from Nandigram. Would you be canvassing for her?

No. We will talk only about the issues affecting the farmers and ordinary people of West Bengal.