PTC Web Desk: Rakesh Tikait, a prominent figure in the farmers’ protest against the government’s agricultural laws, has thrown his weight behind the second edition of the ‘Delhi Chalo’ agitation, which commenced on Tuesday. The protest witnessed tear gas being fired at Shambhu on the Punjab-Haryana border, leading to clashes between farmers and police forces.
In a stern warning to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), grappling with protests ahead of General Election, Rakesh Tikait said, “If the government creates a problem for these farmers…” He further emphasised the diversity of farmer unions, stating, “There are several farmer unions, and they have different issues… If the government creates a problem for farmers marching to Delhi, we are not far from them. We are in support of them.”
Rakesh Tikait heads the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), an Uttar Pradesh-based organisation founded by former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh.
His brother, Naresh Tikait, national president of the BKU, urged the government to engage in talks with the farmers. He said, “Protests are underway across the country… the government should hold discussions (but) give respect to the farmers… should think and try to solve this issue.” Last month, Rakesh Tikait had called for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on February 16 to press farmers’ demands.
#WATCH | On farmers’ ‘Delhi chalo’ protest, farmer leader Rakesh Tikait says, “MSP guarantee law and Swaminathan Committee report, Electricity amendment bill and debt waiver are the issues of the farmers across the country. There are several farmer unions and they have different… pic.twitter.com/UCcVGDsRPo
— ANI (@ANI) February 13, 2024
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In June last year, Rakesh Tikait had warned of a more significant agitation than the one against the now-repealed farm laws if the demand for a legal guarantee on minimum support prices (MSP) was not addressed. “An agitation bigger than the one in Delhi (farmers’ agitation against the now-repealed farm laws) will have to be undertaken for MSP,” he declared in Haryana’s Karnal.
The ‘Delhi Chalo’ 2.0, initiated on Tuesday, witnessed a clash at the Shambhu border crossing. One of the primary demands of the protesting farmers is the enactment of a law guaranteeing MSP for crops, which serves as a crucial financial support for farmers navigating market uncertainties. Legal backing for MSP had also been a demand in protests four years ago.
Other key demands include the repeal of the Electricity Act of 2020, compensation for farmers killed in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri, and the withdrawal of police cases against those involved in the last protest. While some progress was made in discussions late Monday, with an agreement reached on repealing the Electricity Act and compensation for Lakhimpur Kheri incident, the primary concerns of the farmers remained unaddressed.