On Sunday, farmers’ ‘strength demonstration’ was echoed across the country in protest against the three new agricultural laws of the Centre. A large number of farmers from different states gathered for the ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’ at the Government Inter College Ground in Muzaffarnagar. The Muzaffarnagar rally reminds one of the Boat Club rally led by Mahendra Singh Tikait three decades ago. Mahendra Singh Tikait is the father of Rakesh Tikait, the face of the farmers’ movement. About 33 years ago, under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Tikait, 5 lakh farmers forced the then Rajiv Gandhi government to bow down to their demands in the Boat Club of Delhi.
It has been more than nine months since the farmers’ protest against the three new agricultural laws. The farmers are demanding the repeal of those laws. They fear that the new laws will do away with the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system. The farmers had more than 10 rounds of talks with the government. However, the standoff between the two sides did not end. The Kisan Mahapanchayat was called on Sunday in protest against these laws. Farmers gathered in this. Rakesh Tikait, national spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), said, “We have to stop the country from being sold. The farmer should be saved, the country should be saved, businessmen, employees and youth should be saved, that is the purpose of the rally.
Rakesh Tikait’s father Mahendra Singh Tikait is mentioned when the agricultural movements are mentioned. His style was completely lost. He used to sit among the farmers humming hookah. At one point the ruling party under his leadership had to even change the venue of its rally.
He was popularly known as Baba Tikait
Mahendra Singh Tikait was popularly known as ‘Baba Tikait’ among the farmers. Lakhs of farmers used to gather on his one voice. He was called the messiah of the farmers. It is dated 25 October 1988. Then preparations were made for the farmers’ rally in the Boat Club of Delhi under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Tikait. In this there were 35 demands of the farmers. In this, many demands were made including electricity, reduction in irrigation rates and fair price for the crop. A large number of farmers were reaching Delhi from western UP. The administration used police force to stop the farmers. The police also opened fire to stop the farmers on the Loni border. Two farmers Rajendra Singh and Bhup Singh died in this. The police also got involved in the matter. This incident increased the anger of the farmers. However, the administration could not stop him from going to Delhi.
Delhi was stopped
How big was this rally can be gauged from the fact that about 5 lakh farmers from 14 states participated in it. The farmers had parked their bullock carts and tractor boats in the club. Entire Delhi had come to a standstill. From Vijay Chowk to India Gate, farmers were caught. The farmers had chosen this opportunity after finding it. Actually, in those days preparations were going on in the Boat Club for the death anniversary (October 30) of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The stage was set. Farmers had come and sat on this platform itself. Under the leadership of Tikait, the farmers staged a dharna there for a week. There was even a lathi charge on 30 October to remove the farmers. But, the farmers did not budge. In the end, the then government changed the venue. The program took place in the ground behind the Red Fort instead of the Boat Club.
The government had bowed its knees
The farmers’ dharna in the vote club ended on 31 October 1988. It ended with the assurance of the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi that a decision would be taken on all the demands of the farmers. After this movement, the status of Mahendra Singh Tikait had increased a lot.
Rakesh Tikait on the path of father
Rakesh Tikait has been its face since the beginning of the farmers’ movement. Their acceptance among farmers has increased tremendously in the last few months. The Muzaffarnagar rally indicates this. Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson Dharmendra Malik claimed that farmers of 300 farmer organizations from different states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka have reached the venue. More than 5,000 langars have been set up for them. Farmers wearing outfits’ flags and different colored caps were seen reaching Muzaffarnagar in buses, cars and tractors. Several medical camps were also organized around the venue. LED screens were also installed in different parts of the city to facilitate viewing of the program to those unable to access the GIC College grounds.
Why is the event important?
The ‘Mahapanchayat’ of September 5 will make the Yogi-Modi government of the state and the Center realize the power of farmers, farm laborers and supporters of the agricultural movement, the United Kisan Morcha said in a statement. The Muzaffarnagar ‘Mahapanchayat’ is the biggest ever in the last nine months. Rakesh Tikait’s son Charan Singh Tikait had said on Saturday that his father would not come home until the government withdraws three agricultural laws. The event assumes significance in view of the assembly elections to be held in Uttar Pradesh early next year. The ‘Kisan Mahapanchayat’ was organized by the United Kisan Morcha.