Collection of ‘mahapanchayats’; farmers’ agitation good points floor regardless of PM’s provide


Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 31

First Muzaffarnagar, yesterday Mathura, today Baraut (Baghpat) and tomorrow another ‘mahapanchayat’ is expected in Bijnor to mobilise support for farmers’ agitation against the three contentious farm laws in Western Uttar Pradesh.

Farmers’ agitation is gaining ground and strength despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reach-out and open offer to suspend the three laws. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha will also unveil its nationwide programme tomorrow in the wake of the happenings, including arrests, following the January 26 Delhi violence.

At the same time, observers are also sensing “hint of differences” among various groups that are now part of the movement. The presence of political leaders at the Ghazipur protest site is also being frowned upon.

In today’s ‘mahapanchayat’ in Baghpat, where leaders of several khaps supported the Ghazipur agitation, BKU president Naresh Tikait was not present.

Much is also being read in some of his statements in past 24 hours.

A day after PM Modi said his government was just a “phone call away” for talks with them, Naresh Tikait said farmers respect the dignity of the Prime Minister and do not want him or the government or Parliament bow down to them.

“Prime Minister should ensure that the self-respect of farmers is protected…a middle way should be found…and talks should be held,” Naresh Tikat was also quoted as saying.

Calling for a “respectful solution”, the brother of Rakesh Tikait whose tears virtually changed the shape of the agitation, however, also said they will not “agree to anything under pressure”.

Tikait said the government should release those arrested after the January 26 Delhi violence and prepare a conducive environment for talks.

Speaking to the media at Singhu, representatives of the 32 Punjab unions said they will not make the first move (for talks with the government). “Unions are ready for talks but the message should come from the government; the government should make atmosphere conducive for talks; the three laws should be repealed and a law for MSP formulated,” is what Punjab unions broadly said.

While observers are sensing “differences” between various ‘khaps’ in Western UP, the presence of political leaders at Ghazipur is also being viewed as contrary to the collective decision of SKM.

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today met Rakesh Tikait and assured him of all the support in the ongoing farmers’ protest against the three farm laws.

Meanwhile, prominent Gujjar leader of western Uttar Pradesh Madan Bhaiyya has extended his community’s support to the BKU and also slammed BJP’s Loni MLA Nand Kishor Gujjar, who has been accused of “inciting and orchestrating violence” at the Ghazipur protest site on January 26, though Nand Kishor has denied the allegations.

Prime Minister Modi yesterday said his government’s offer on agri laws made to protesting farmers “still stands” and the Centre was just a “phone call away”.



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