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How Rakesh Tikait, constable-turned-farmer-leader, is still 'holding fort' along Delhi

By Narender*

Rakesh Tikait is a farmer activist from the Muzaffarnagar of western Uttar Pradesh. He is the son of a well-known farmer leader and Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) co-founder, late Mahender Singh Tikait. After completing his MA from Meerut University, he joined Delhi Police and now holding the position of spokesperson of the Bhartiya Kisan Union. Tikait also contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election on the ticket of RLD but lost the election badly, even lost his deposit.
He is currently holding his fort at the Gazipur border, Delhi, for the last eight months against the three farm Bills recently passed by the Government of India. When the farmer protest was almost over after the incident of the Red fort on 26th January, his tears united farmers all over India and gave it a new life. Farmers blocked the roads in their villages and marched towards borders in the night.
Due to this enormous support, the government had to remove security forces from the Gazipur border earlier deployed to vacate the dharna. Since then, he has been holding Kisan maha panchayats in the Jaat strongholds and getting Khap panchayats' support.
Rakesh Tikait, the prime face of ongoing farmer protest, can be seen all over the media channels debating with government spokespersons and media house anchors. Tikait said, he joined Delhi Police to serve the country and later joined his father to help sugarcane farmers of western UP. He also talks about the life of an activist and how he manages between his personal life and the protests.
According to him, the joint family helps him a lot as he can focus on making strategies about the movement. Tiakit controls himself and remains cool throughout the day as Government wants anything wrong from his mouth so that they get anything to defame the farmer movement.
Rakesh Tikait spends most of his time in the control room at the Gazipur border, interacting with farmer leaders of different Morchas and building future strategies. On the question of sleeping in AC rooms recently in the news, he said that this AC is a device to control temperature, and these rooms are for the media persons who come here to interview him and why cannot farmer sleeps in AC rooms.
They work hard in their fields and can buy AC and know-how to speak in English. People who oppose this all want to see farmers in torn clothes and can not digest the fact that farmers can also move in big cars and enjoy luxury.
"Ghar vapsi is only possible when the government revokes all three black farm bills," said Tikait during an interaction. He added, "It's on the Government when they want to call us for the talks, but the farmer will not accept any condition and want an unconditional offer for talks. Farmers are not in any hurry and are ready to sit here till the 20204 elections, and we are well prepared for that.”
He insisted, “The Government is trying to break us but, farmers are united and coming to all borders on a roster basis. We are keeping our eyes on the field as well as maintaining our numbers at all four borders. The price of crops is not increasing, but the price of other products has increased in many folds. Inflation is also increasing while the price of other products is fixed according to their producers' will.”
Farmer protest is in its ninth month. More than 250 farmers have martyred. But the enthusiasm is still the same
According to Tikait, “Then why is this discrimination against farmers? Government is not even ready to make a law on the MSP, and without MSP, these bills are a death warrant for farmers. The Government is saying that they are ready to talk but will not discuss bills. If farmers have any other issue, they can come anytime and talk".
Taking about the farm bills, Tikait said, "If these bills are for farmers, then Government should revoke these as farmers don't want any of three bills. Most government leaders don't know the amount of fertilizer, pesticides, and seeds required for any crop and don't know which crop to grow during which season. These so-called leader calls themselves the proper supports of farmers. "
Farmer protest is already in its ninth month, and more than 250 farmers have martyred on all the borders. But the enthusiasm is still the same and even increased with each day passing. They now look more managed and coordinated adequately with all the Dharna Points over Haryana, Punjab, and western UP.
Villages are implementing a roster system for the movement to borders, and village-wise duties are assigned to supply milk, vegetables, and other necessary products. Farmers have built their pakka morchas and are not willing to take a single step behind. His brother has united the Muslims and Hindus of western UP. Now, Tikait has to form an aggressive strategy to build pressure on the Government. Farmer leaders need to be aware of the politicians coming to different Dharan’s with their political mottos.
It is the right time for the government to understand the plight of farmers and resume talks by breaking this deadlock.
---
*PGP student, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

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