BKU leader Tikait, who revived protest at Ghazipur border with emotional appeal, insists now politicians who come to attend won’t even be handed microphones.
Ghazipur (Delhi-UP border): Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait Sunday said he is ready to go to jail in the cases filed against him, and insisted that he has no political ambitions.
The FIRs were filed against Tikait and other farmer leaders following violence during the tractor rally on Republic Day.
“The police must have a reason for filing FIRs against us. And in case they charge me with sedition, I will go to prison, for what seven years, 12 years? I am ready for it,” he said in an interview to ThePrint. “Once an investigation takes place, the truth will come out.”
Various farmer leaders have been charged under sections of the Indian Penal Code, including unlawful assembly, assault on a public servant, attempt to murder, dacoity, robbery, criminal conspiracy, rioting, vandalising public property, and stopping public servants from doing their duty, among others.
In wake of the violence, Tikait said his BKU will be extra vigilant, and will weed out any “mischievous element” from the protest.
“It’s easy for us to identify who is associated with us and who is not,” he said. “For example, if someone misbehaves with the media, or raises anti-government slogans, he can’t be associated with us,” he said.
No political ambitions
Tikait has been credited with resuscitating the protests following an emotional appeal Thursday — now thousands of farmers have arrived at Ghazipur.
This has also given rise to speculation about Tikait contesting the 2022 Uttar Pradesh elections, but the BKU leader dismissed it. “This is a protest for our rights, I don’t have any political ambitions,” he said.
The large crowds at Ghazipur have led to politicians such as Rashtriya Lok Dal vice-president Jayant Chaudhary, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Chautala, and Gurjar leader and former MLA Madan Bhaiyya flocking to the protest site.
But Tikait insisted the agitation will remain apolitical. “From today, both stage and mic are banned for political parties, be it leaders in power or from the opposition,” he said. “We’ve anyway never given the stage to politicians, just the mic, but even that won’t happen henceforth. Politicians are most welcome to come and attend the protest, but nobody can look for votes here.”
Asked if he feared the protest site could become a Covid hotspot, Tikait said, “We will handle Covid cases here in the same way BJP handled large crowds during the Bihar elections. Besides, we’ll think about coronavirus once it spreads. Tab ki tab dekhi jayegi (we’ll see when it happens).”
Open to negotiations
On his future plan and the endgame of the agitation, Tikait shied away from a definite answer.
“We will negotiate with the government about our demands in the future. I will talk to the government about it, not you,” he said. “Any outcome will become clear only once we sit on the table with the government.”
On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio programme that the government’s offer to suspend the new farm laws for 18 months still stands.
Speaking to ANI, Tikait responded by thanking the Prime Minister. “There won’t be any agreement under pressure. We will hold discussions on the issue,” he said. “The Prime Minister is ours also; we are thankful for his initiative and we will respect it. We want our people to be released.”
Source: The Print