Another farmers’ movement in the offing?
During Independence Day march, BKU leader Rakesh Tikait calls upon farmers to keep their tractors ready to participate in the movement any time.
MEERUT Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait’s advice to farmers to be ready for a movement indicates that the state may witness another farmers’ stir in the coming months.
Rakesh Tikait took out a tractor march in Muzaffarnagar on August 15 along with supporters and BKU leaders. Thousands of farmers participated in the march with the Tricolour hoisted on their tractors. Rakesh Tikait also drove a tractor to lead the march and called upon farmers to keep their tractors ready to participate in the movement anytime.
It is believed that it was a show of Tikait’s strength to reply to those who believe that the BKU became weak after a few leaders broke away from it in May this year and formed a new organisation BKU (apolitical). The Tikait brothers had accused the splinter group of working on the directions of the BJP to weaken the farmers’ movement.
Earlier this month, Rakesh Tikait and his fellow farmer leaders addressed a gathering of farmers and labourers in different villages of Meerut and Muzaffarnagar during ‘ Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ Sammelan in which they called upon the latter to be ready for another movement if they wanted to protect their lives and land.
Their call has made the farmers apprehensive about their future, leading to discussions in villages about government policies and their impact on farmers. Jagdish Singh, former pradhan of Chabadia village, said that the farmers’ apprehension was genuine because so far, the ruling BJP had displayed its inclination towards corporates and not farmers.
The farmers’ biggest worry is about the government’s new electricity policy. They were paying a fixed charge of their tube-well connections used for irrigation of crops. Now the government want to install meters to charge electricity bill as per meter reading. The farmers are against installation of such meters and in many villages of the region they removed the meters from tube-wells and dumped them at the office of the electricity department.
Tikait’s elder brother and chief of BKU Naresh Tikait had staged a dharna at west UP electricity department’s headquarters to protest installation of meters on tube-wells and erratic supply of power in villages.
BKU leader Rakesh Tikait admitted that farmers were worried and angry over the new electricity policy of the government. He alleged the government wanted to benefit corporates by handing over the electricity sector to them. He said that the government intended to charge electricity bill on tube-wells for 23 horse power against the present billing which was much less. “The farmers won’t be able to pay such hefty power bills,” said the farmer leader. He demanded that the government should pay rent to farmers for using their land to install electricity poles.
Tikait claimed that farmers were worried about the future of their children and their land holdings and therefore ready to fight for protecting their land and lives.
Speaking to HT, Rakesh Tikait said that farmers had no option but to rise against the anti -farmer and anti-people policies of the government. He accused the government of conspiring to sell mandis in the name of installation of small industries. He also raised the matter of less payment of sugarcane crop and pending dues on sugar mills. He demanded to include farmers in ‘ Digital India’ campaign so that they could also get payment for their crops in time. “But the government will not do it because it believes in exploiting farmers and benefitting its corporate friends,” he said.
The farmer leader further accused the government of lying and flayed it for not fulfilling its promises on the issue of MSP and cases lodged against farmers during their 13 -month stir.