Post split, Tikait brothers to show BKU might in Sarv Khap Panchayat tomorrow
MEERUT In coming months, western Uttar Pradesh is likely to witness a trial of strength between the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) led by the Tikait brothers and its splinter group.
Both sides have already started flexing muscles and the proposed Sarv Khap Panchayat on Sunday in Kakda village of Muzaffarnagar district will see the display of Tikait brothers’ might.
Stalwart farmer leader Mahendra Singh Tikait’s elder son Naresh Tikait had taken over the BKU after the death of his father in May 2011. Being the elder son, he was also crowned as Choudhary of Baliyan Khap, which is one of the biggest Khaps with clan members in 84 villages.
Another big Khap is Gathwala or Malik Khap, which is led by Rajendra Singh Malik. This Khap also has members in 84 villages.
Besides these two, there are more than two dozen Khaps of different communities. Khaps guide people on social issues, so their Choudhary (head) and Thambedar (regional head) command special respect in their own as well as other clans.
These Khap Choudharies convene meetings occasionally to discuss social issues and to give guidelines against social evils. Sometime, meetings of Sarv Khap (all Khaps) are also organised to discuss larger issues.
Khaps played a vital role in Haryana and western UP during the 13-month- long farmers’ movement. They extended their support to the movement and helped arrange food and other things for the protesting farmers.
General secretary of Sarv Khap Subhash Baliyan candidly admitted that efforts were now being made to create differences among Khaps to weak farmers because Khaps were mainly active in rural areas and most villagers were associated with them.
He said that the panchayat in Kakda village was being held mainly to tell people how conspiracies were being hatched to weaken Khaps by creating differences among Choudharies and Thambedars. “Controversies and differences among Khap leaders would ultimately have an adverse impact on farmers’ unity and their movement,” said Baliyan. The panchayat in Kakda would alert Khap Choudharies and Thambedars to understand the wicked politics being played against Khaps and they would be requested to maintain respect for each other and uphold unity of Khaps.
During the farmers’ movement , when the Khaps powered the stir, the ruling party directed its leaders and ministers to meet the Choudharies and explain the government’s take on the farm bills. But most Khap choudharies remained unconvinced and at many places BJP ministers and leaders had to face the wrath of people after deaths of farmers during the protest.
Meanwhile, differences between Choudhary of Gathwala Khap Rajendra Singh Malik and Baliyan Khap head Naresh Tikait also surfaced. Tikait met the former during preparations of Sanyukt Kisan Morcha’s proposed panchayat in Muzaffarnagar on September 5 , but things remained unchanged. However, thambedars of Malik Khap supported Tikait and also participated in the panchayat.
Baba Shyam Singh of Bahadi village in Muzaffarnagar, an influential Thambedar of 12 villages of Malik Khap, criticised his Choudhary Rajendra Singh Malik while speaking to HT on phone. He said, “He has lost his credibility” and claimed that all 7 thambedars of Malik Khap would attend the Sarv Khap Panchayat in Kakda.
The splinter group of BKU which has formed a new outfit called BKU (Apolitical), has appointed Rajendra Singh Malik its patron and chairman.
Baba Shayam Singh accused him of not consulting any thambedar before accepting the post in the splinter group. He also said that there was politics to weaken Khaps by creating differences among Khap Choudharies. “But we will foil the attempts of those who are behind this”, he said.
Former MP and Samajwadi Party leader Harendra Malik also said that after creating differences between communities through fierce riots in September 2013 in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts, now there was dirty politics to weaken Khaps. “The Khaps always worked as the backbone of farmers’ movements and any dilution in their strength would have an adverse impact “, said Malik who declared that people would remain with the Tikait brothers because the family had a history for battling for farmers’ issues.
In the meantime, Rajendra Singh of Azad Kisan Union announced to merge his organisation in the BKU in the presence of Naresh Tikait who said that this would further strengthen the BKU. Addressing a gathering, Naresh Tikait again accused leaders of the splinter group of working at the behest of the ruling party and said, “They parted ways and formed a new organisation with the support of the ruling party”.
BKU’s district president in Muzaffarnagar Yogesh Sharma also accused the opponents for working at the behest of the ruling party to drive a wedge among farmers after a successful movement which compelled the union government to repeal the contentious farm laws. He said people would give them a befitting reply through Sarv Khap Panchayat in Kakda.
On the other hand, Malik Khap’s Choudhary Rajendra Singh Malik continued his attack on Naresh Tikait. Interacting with media persons in Shamli recently, he accused the Tikait brothers of indulging in politics and questioned, “How can forming a new organisation be an attempt to insult the Baliyan Khap head? Why did they ask people to boycott union minister Sanjeev Baliyan? Was he not from Baliyan Khap?”.
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