Under Rakesh Tikait, Thousands of Farmers Protest Against Yogi Govt
Lucknow: Farmers during the 'Kisan Mahapanchayat', in Lucknow, Monday, Sept. 18, 2023. (PTI Photo/Nand Kumar)
Lucknow: Thousands of agitating farmers gathered in Lucknow's Eco Garden on Monday to hold the government accountable for its “false and failing promises” since Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath took charge of the state.
Farmers from the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), led by Rakesh Tikait, held a Kisan Mazdoor Mahapanchayat to question the unfulfilled promises made in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's election manifesto. The Mahapanchayat attracted farmers from Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Haryana as they feel they have lost the guarantees previously marketed by the Modi government.
"In Haryana, the BJP is contriving to create factions among the Khap panchayats, farmers' outfits and wrestlers to restrain them from being united," Tikait alleged. "The BJP, in fact, is nowhere concerned with religion but with provoking religious sentiments in people," Tikait said.
The farmer leader, one of the main faces of the successful nationwide farmers' protest, said that the farmers had arrived there to express their views. "Uttar Pradesh government said in its manifesto that if they come to power, they will provide free electricity, then they said that they will provide free electricity for one year, but this did not happen," he said.
One month before the UP Assembly elections in February 2022, the government issued an order slashing electricity bills for tube wells by 50%. Subsequently, the BJP manifesto promised free power to farmers using private tube wells.
Lucknow: Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait during the 'Kisan Mahapanchayat', in Lucknow, Monday, Sept. 18, 2023. (PTI Photo/Nand Kumar)
According to the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) data, around 14 lakh private tube wells used by farmers have a total connected load of around 75 lakh kilowatts, more than 12% of the state’s total power load. They also consume around 15 lakh mega units annually, or 14% of the total energy.
He also claimed that just as political leaders were being looted by showing the fear of ED, farmers were similarly being looted in the name of electricity.
One of the major claims that the BKU leader dismissed was the Uttar Pradesh government's recent decision to increase the procurement rate of paddy by Rs 143 per quintal. Tikait termed it inadequate and argued that if the BJP-led Union and state governments were genuinely committed to safeguarding farmers' interests, they would have endorsed the Minimum Support Price (MSP) guarantee bill.
"Without it, the direct benefits of price hikes are reaped by private traders who, in collusion with procurement agencies, force farmers to sell their crops at prices much lower than the MSP. The same produce is sold at government procurement centres, with the difference in price shared among the traders, government agencies and officials," he added.
Addressing the gathering, Tikait asked the gathering to be ready for a “bigger battle” than the one they had fought against the Narendra Modi government three years ago to repeal the three farm laws.
The BKU leader called upon the farmers to prepare for a massive movement across the state as "the government is going back on its promise and is bent upon destroying both crops and farmers by benefiting big companies."
Potato farmers in Central Uttar Pradesh held protests on multiple scores, including the issue of non-remunerative prices for potatoes and the state's decision not to set up procurement centres in Agra and Firozabad — two of the biggest potato-producing regions of the state, NewsClick had earlier reported.
The Youth State General Secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union, Atul Tripathi, said, "In 2022, the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP had promised that if it comes to power in the state, electricity will be free, stray animals menace will be controlled, seed prices will be reduced and fair payment for sugarcane but it didn't happen. We will make further strategies regarding the demonstration in the entire state," he said.
“It is the first government that makes false promises on paper. They had promised us in writing that they would resolve all our issues but didn’t do anything,” said Tikait.
The farmer leaders also highlighted the menace of stray cattle, accusing that "the government has miserably failed to tackle the issue."
"Yogi Adityanath has said that the budget has been given to the police stations for stray animals. All the farmers should go to the police station with the stray animals of their respective areas and abandon them with the police station officer. Praise Yogi ji for giving this responsibility to the police station officers. If animals go to the police stations, then the police officers will also be engaged in serving the people instead of getting trapped in false cases," they appealed.
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