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“Don't Think Of Myself As a Jat. We Work As Farmers. Farmers Are Casteless”, says Rakesh Tikait

Don't think of myself as a Jat. We work as farmers. Farmers are casteless. On our concerns, we are all in agreement. Farm unrest and farmers' grievances will play out across the state, not only in western UP, during the elections and beyond.

Chintu Das
Rakesh Tikait
Rakesh Tikait

The farmers' revolt against the now-repealed agricultural laws began in western Uttar Pradesh, and it is expected to set the tone for the upcoming assembly elections narrative. It is also home to the powerful Jat population, whose support is crucial in the next elections.

Rakesh Tikait, a Jat farmer leader and national spokesman for the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), told that his farmer union is looking for answers to their agricultural issues and has stayed away from politics.

With the farm unrest in the background, Jat politics is now playing a role in western UP, where you are from. What are your thoughts on this, as a Jat? What side will the Jats back?

Don't think of myself as a Jat. We work as farmers. Farmers are casteless. On our concerns, we are all in agreement. Farm unrest and farmers' grievances will play out across the state, not only in western UP, during the elections and beyond.

Are you a member of any political party, either secretly or openly?

We are not affiliated with the government, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal (alliance), or any other political party. We don't support or oppose anyone, whether it's the government or the opposition. Our concerns are those of farmers. Our concerns are shared by farmers all around the country.

Are you requesting that farmers or communities vote for a particular political party?

No, we're not in the voting business. We are no longer involved in electoral politics or voting. We are a farmers' association, and we are fighting for farmers' interests. People and farmers are aware of who they should vote for. It's their prerogative. Farmers will know who to vote for after selling their crop for half of what it is worth. After purchasing a Rs 400 (cooking gas) cylinder for Rs1,000, a housewife will know who to vote for. Those who are unemployed and at home will know who to vote for.

Several top figures have gathered in western Uttar Pradesh

The Uttar Pradesh government is now touring western Uttar Pradesh. They (ministers and leaders) travel in and out of the region on a regular basis. It would have been preferable if they had taken the road. They would have realized then that they were not the ones who built the highways. And instead of soliciting votes today, they should have travelled to western Uttar Pradesh by road six months ago to inspect the job.

But why aren't the government and other political figures interacting with farmers?

They aren't, no. They're simply interested in votes. Has anyone gone to see the farmers who are currently incarcerated? The government is nowhere to be found. Farmers have been agitating for 13 months. There was no sign of the government. The government is invisible, undetectable, and untraceable. We attempted but failed to locate the government.

What do you want to talk with the Union government about now that farm laws have been repealed?

We requested a meeting with the central government to discuss MSP (minimum support prices) for crops, but they declined.

What are the parts of the agreement that haven't been completed yet?

There are two major ones: employment for the relatives of the slain farmers and compensation for those harmed in the disaster. We'll also discuss the cane payments made to farmers. We'll also bring up the Teni (Demand for Union Minister Ajay Mishra's 'Teni' resignation) issue.

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