Voters in Uttar Pradesh would favour only those talking about the welfare of farmers and polarisation on religious lines would not benefit those indulging in it, farmer leader Rakesh Tikait has said.
He claimed farmers were going through “troubled times” in Uttar Pradesh as they were getting less value for their produce and were forced to pay “exorbitant” electricity bills.
“The (election) issues are farmers, unemployed youth and inflation for the middle class. But efforts are being made to polarise Hindu-Muslim voters through regular statements on Jinnah and Pakistan. But, this will not work out for those doing it and will instead harm them,” Tikait told PTI in an interview on Friday.
He, however, did not name any party or individual.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has hit out at the Samajwadi Party and its president Akhilesh Yadav, calling them supporters of Pakistan and “worshippers of Jinnah”.
Adityanath’s remark ostensibly refers to the SP president’s recent statements on Pakistan and its founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Asked if he would campaign against the BJP, the Bharatiya Kisan Union leader, who was a prominent face of the year-long stir against the three farm laws at Delhi borders, said he had no such plans.
“I am not a politician, I stay away from political parties. I only talk about the issues of farmers and urge people to question their leaders. I will continue to raise the issue of farmers,” he said.
“In Uttar Pradesh, farmers are going through troubled times. Not only do farmers here get less value for their produce, but they are also forced to pay exorbitant rates of electricity,” he added.
Refusing to predict the winner of the upcoming polls, Tikait claimed farmers were not happy with the present dispensation and this will reflect in the results.
“I cannot comment on where the election is headed or which party will come out victorious. However, the farmers I meet are not happy with the current state of affairs. What further troubles them is that their children have no avenues of employment. I think the farmers and locals will keep these things in mind when they vote,” he said.
The politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh will witness seven-phase voting starting February 10. The results will be declared on March 10 along with other poll-bound states of Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur.
Tikait also urged people to keep an eye on the activities of the district magistrates and superintendents of police during counting of votes in the state as “these officers may favour the government in power.”
Asked how the BJP would perform in western Uttar Pradesh after the RLD-SP alliance, Tikait said, “I think voters will favour those who are not against farmers. They will support those who are not polarising Hindu and Muslim voters. People will favour those who talk about their issues and not only about Pakistan and Jinnah”.
Tikait, who hails from Muzaffarnagar district of western UP, said he was pursuing the Lakhimpur Kheri case in which eight people, including four farmers, died on October 3.
The farmers were allegedly mowed down by a vehicle carrying BJP workers. The other four victims included two BJP workers, allegedly lynched by angry protesters.
Union minister Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish is the main accused in the case and is currently in jail.
“I have come to Lucknow to discuss some issues related to the case with senior officials. The local farmers and family members of the farmers killed in the violence have made it clear that justice will be done only after law will take its course against minister of state Ajay Mishra Teni. Police have not yet made him an accused in the case,” Tikait said.