Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait said that ambulances, doctors, or those going for an emergency can pass through. “We've not sealed down anything, we just want to send a message. We appeal to the shopkeepers to keep their shops closed for now and open only after 4 pm,” Tikait told news agency ANI. (Image: ANI)
Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait has re-iterated that the farmers’ protest will continue till the government repeals its Farm Laws. Speaking to Aaj Tak, he also stated that these protests are a purely agricultural issue and not a political one.
When questioned about the “political” angle due to the involvement of local panchayats, support from opposition parties, and his earlier statement that protests will happen in all poll-bound states, Tikait again stated that the farmers’ protest is not a political matter.
“This is an agricultural issue, not a political one. Where’s the political angle? Protests will inevitably be against those that have formed the government and passed the law, not the political party. We are protesting the government’s actions and the agitation will be against whoever is running the government,” he told the news channel on September 27.
When further asked if farmers would acknowledge that the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has increased prices for sugarcane crop, Tikait was critical of the “lateness” of the move.
“During their campaign, we were promised Rs 375/quintal as soon as they form the government, but that didn’t happen in 2017. Now five years later, they increased half of the proposed amount and want us to be thankful? Who will compensate the price per quintal we lost out on during those five years, plus the interest we would have earned?” he countered.
On being told that many think he is being very harsh in his criticism, Tikait retorted that he would have words to say to the ones who made the law. "Then whom should I criticise? Should I criticise Arvind Kejriwal? He didn't bring the law."
On plans to protest ahead of elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand Tikait said the rural vote will speak for itself. "People from the villages will give their answers. But if anyone uses force and underhanded means we have no power against that.”
Asked if the Bharat Bandh will have any positive outcome, Tikait said, "This is one part of a larger protest. If it does not work, why were Bharat Bandhs held before? We learned from other agitations. What result the Bharat Bandhs have yielded for others, we would like the same."
When asked about future agitations, Tikait said that if the government does not improve for 10 years, protests will continue for 10 years. “We won't abandon our demands. You can only change someone's mind by mutual dialogue, using the power of guns will not change anyone's minds".
When asked why representatives have not taken up the government's invitation for talks. Tikait was categorical that they want the laws repealed. "They (government) have clearly said the laws will not be repealed. They are only calling us there to discuss the particulars of the law.”
Tikait interview comes as the Samyukt Kisan Morcha’s Bharat Bandh is being held on September 27 to protest against the Centre’s implementation of three contentious farm laws in September 2020.
Addressing a Kisan Mahapanchayat in Panipat last week, Tikait announced that the government “must listen with open ears, even if we have to agitate for 10 years we are ready.” He said that if not the present government, then future governments will have to scrap the laws.
He also urged farmers to “keep tractors ready as these may be required at any time in Delhi.”
Thousands of farmers in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh have sat at Delhi’s borders for the past 10 months demanding that the farm laws be redacted.