“Do we need such a government?” farmer leader Rakesh Tikait wondered on Wednesday as he slammed the BJP government, accusing it of not meeting farmers after 13 months of their protest in Delhi.
The Centre held 11 rounds of formal dialogue in Delhi with a delegation of farmer leaders of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), which had spearheaded the over-a-year-long stir against the now-repealed three farm laws.
The last such meeting was held on January 22, 2021 after which there was no formal dialogue and the protest ended in December last year.
Tikait was in Prayagraj as part of SKM’s ‘Mission UP’ with other farmer leaders like Yogendra Yadav in the midst of the state assembly elections.
Asked if the previous Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government was better in UP, Tikait said, “It was at least better than this one (Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government).” Prayagraj goes to polls on February 27 in the fifth phase of elections in the state.
“Political parties have now starting talking about farmers. This is a big achievement of farmer unions. We don’t know who will form the government in the coming days, but whoever forms it must fulfil their promises,” he said.
“The farm laws were a disease. We protested for 13 months but even after that we did not get to meet the government. People must know that the government did not meet farmers even after 13 months and only letters were exchanged,” Tikait alleged.
“If there’s any problem to anyone in the country in the future, will they protest for 13 months? Do we need this kind of government?” he asked.
He also questioned the release of Ashish Mishra, the son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra and key accused of the October 3 violence in Lakhimpur Kheri in which eight people, including four farmers, were killed.
“The son is now out intimidating people and the chief minister of the state keeps talking about ‘garm kar denge’ ‘thanda kar denge’,” Tikait alleged.
He said the SKM is not telling people who to vote for but is just keeping forth its points, adding that they are “talking about the government because it is responsible for working for the people”.
To further stress his point, Tikait, who highlighted the low power tariff in Haryana, said the BJP is ruling both the states.
He said in Prayagraj, the farmers’ produce is not being sold at MSP even during the times of elections. “Imagine how the condition of farmers must have been during the last four-five years,” he said.
“Having an MSP guarantee law is a major issue in the country. A committee was supposed to be set up by the government on this issue, but the Centre did not do it,” the farmer leader added.
Tikait also slammed the BJP government over inflation, saying that it was trying to divide people on communal lines instead of checking prices of commodities.
“Prices have skyrocketed and people wonder how it happened. A cooking gas cylinder’s cost rose from Rs 400 to Rs 1,000 and nobody knew how, because the attention of the people was diverted to other issues,” he said.
“They started such talks from western Uttar Pradesh in the last three months. They brought Hindu-Muslim, Jinnah-Pakistan there and tried a lot to start these issues from Muzaffarnagar,” he alleged.
The people of western UP did not let it work this time, he added. The government has no other issue to talk about because they did not work on development, he claimed.
He said the Centre highlighted the Digital India Campaign and today even small shop owners take payment through Paytm and PhonePe but farmers have to wait for several months to get money for their produce.
“Farmers’ payment is not connected with digital India because it hurts the big traders,” he alleged.
Tikait also hit out at the government for keeping schools closed while politicians were allowed to hold “big rallies” during election times.
“It’s a big ongoing scheme in the country to prepare labourers, keep children uneducated,” he alleged. “The people should teach them a lesson. Ask them questions and seek accountability. This is the first time when the people of the country, the state have started questioning them,” he said. (PTI)