By Kritika Sharma
The Modi government has lost the farmer vote as it has done little for the agriculture sector, the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Naresh Singh Tikait, who is leading the farmer protests that have reached the national capital, told ThePrint.
“This government has done nothing for farmers and we are going to reject them. They have lost our vote in the next elections. We are a strong community of over 4 lakh people and we have decided to not vote for Modi,” Tikait said.
“When Modi came to power he made many promises to farmers but four years later, what has happened to all those promises? The farmer is on the streets fighting for his basic rights,” he said.
The farmer leader also took exception to the administration’s decision to stop their march at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border. The Delhi Police has issued prohibitory orders in east and northeast Delhi, in view of the march. On Tuesday, police used water cannons to disperse the farmers when they forcefully tried to enter the capital.
“On an occasion such as Gandhi Jayanti, when the international media and dignitaries come to Delhi, we also wanted to reach Delhi to pay our respects to Mahatma Gandhi,” said Tikait, whose father, BKU founder Mahendra Singh Tikait, brought the national capital to standstill for a week, 30 years ago, forcing the Rajiv Gandhi government to accept all their demands.
“We want to follow the path of peace shown by Gandhi but the authorities are not letting us do it. If we are forced to sit on the borders of Delhi, we will sit in silent protest,” said Tikait. “The world will also see how farmers in India are treated.”
A 10-day march
The farmers, associated with the BKU, began their march from Haridwar on 23 September. They descended on the national capital late Monday, and have been stopped at the Delhi-UP border.
The farmers, from the northern states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab, are demanding better crop prices, farm loan waivers and a cut in electricity and fuel costs among others.
The march has brought traffic to a halt along the national highway leading to Delhi.
The borders were sealed Tuesday morning, with heavy police deployment on roads that connect NCR to Delhi.
“We are not armed with any weapons or armour. We are not here to attack someone. There is no reason for police to use force against us,” said Lokesh Sirohi, a farmer from Hastinapur. “All we want is to go to Kisan Ghat and pay our respects to our leader Chaudhary Charan Singh”.
[First published on ThePrint by Kritika Sharma]