Amid ongoing protests at Delhi borders over the Centre”s contentious farm laws, a farmers” mahapanchayat in Bijnor, the fourth such congregation in western Uttar Pradesh in as many days, on Monday resolved to relocate smaller protests in the region to Ghazipur.
Thousands of farmers and locals from Bijnor and surrounding areas started pouring in at ITI Ground on tractors and other vehicles for the mahapanchayat, which started at 11 am with several regional farmer leaders in attendance.
Bharatiya Kisan Union national president Naresh Tikait, whose union is protesting at Ghazipur on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border for over two months now, was said to be attending the ”Kisaan Samman mahapanchayat”, according to ”munaadis” (beat of drums for public announcements) done in several villages and towns preceding the event.
Although he skipped the event, his son and BKU youth wing president Gaurav Tikait attended the mahapanchayats convened after similar ones in Muzaffarnagar, Mathura and Baghpat districts over the past three days, with each such congregation witnessing a turnout of thousands of people and resolving to extend support to the ongoing stir at the Delhi borders.
Gaurav Tikait said the agitation will continue till the ”problem” with the agricultural laws is solved, adding that the stir will be made more powerful.
Reiterating his union”s stance, Tikait said the Centre “should not make rollback of the new agricultural laws a question of its dignity” as he also warned it against using force to crush the farmers” movement.
He called upon all the farmers staging demonstrations against the contentious laws in western Uttar Pradesh to reach Ghazipur and give strength to the movement.
Strictly a farmers” show, the mahapanchayat, however, had Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) vice president Jayant Chaudhary in attendance with several supporters of his political party, which holds a sway in western UP.
Some local Samajawadi Party leaders also attended the event, but did not take to the stage with farmer leaders, maintaining that it was an “apolitical” congregration.
However, Gaurav Tikait had Jayant Chaudhary come on to the stage.
In a very brief speech, Chaudhary said, “The ongoing movement is a wave of revolution in the whole of North India and the prime minister should concede to the public opinion and take a step backwards.”
Chaudhary is the grandson of former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, while Tikait”s grandfather is Mahendra Singh Tikait, both counted among the tallest farmer leaders in the country and having a support base in north India, especially western UP.
Chaudhary also referred to his father and former Union minister Ajit Singh”s role in the mahapanchayat held on Monday in a show of strength.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting at the Delhi borders, demanding a rollback of the Farmers” Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The protesting farmers have expressed the apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporations.
However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring better opportunities to farmers and introduce new technologies in agriculture.