The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), which spearheaded the year-long farmers’ protest against the now-repealed farm laws, on Sunday witnessed a split as a section of its leaders floated a separate outfit — BKU (Apolitical) — led by Rajesh Singh Chauhan. Fissures within the farmers’ union came out in the open on the death anniversary of its founder president Mahendra Singh Tikait.
Chauhan said he took the decision after being “insulted” and alleged that the outfit sided with political parties in the elections, an apparent reference to this year’s UP Assembly polls. His outfit will be called the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Arajnaitik), Chauhan said “Arajnaitik” means apolitical in Hindi.
The leaders of BKU (Apolitical) alleged that they were upset with the “political” statements made by Tikait during the farm laws protests and the recent Assembly polls in UP.
Meanwhile, the BKU expelled Chauhan and six other office-bearers for anti-outfit activities.
Reacting to the formation of the new outfit, BKU leader Rakesh Tikait in Bulandshahr alleged,”Those who have left the organisation have done so on the behest of the government. This will not impact us and the BKU will grow stronger.” Tikait also attacked the central government for “trying to divide farmers”.
Earlier in the day, a senior office-bearer of the new outfit, Harinaam Verma, told PTI that Chauhan announced the formation of the outfit in Lucknow on the death anniversary of farmer leader Mahendra Singh Tikait.
“Chauhan will be heading the BKU (A),” he said.
Speaking at an event here, Chauhan alleged that he from time to time tried to put forward his opinion but was ignored.
Senior BKU leaders Naresh Tikait and Rakesh Tikait “neither listen to workers nor pay any attention to problems of farmers”, he alleged.
“They have got into bad company and insulted us in one or the other way. I wholeheartedly supported Naresh Tikait and Rakesh Tikait but when the elections came, they deviated from the ideal of Mahendra Singh Tikait,” Chauhan alleged.
“They ventured into political mess and had made this organisation a puppet in the hands of political parties. I was extremely saddened and pained by this,” Chauhan said.
“Rakesh Tikait was influenced by political parties. He campaigned for one party while opposed the other party,” Chauhan said but did not name any political party. About the BKU (A), Chauhan said he only abided by the decision of workers and farmers. Chauhan also cleared that he formed the new organisation and has not shown doors to Naresh Tikait and Rakesh Tikait as shown in certain sections of the media. “They (Tikait brothers) belong to the BKU while my organisation is BKU(A). This is a new organisation and we do not want any controversy,” Chauhan said.
Meanwhile, the BKU expelled Chauhan and six others, according to a press release. The six others expelled are Anil Talan, Mangeram Tyagi, Digamber Singh, Dharmendra Malik, Rajbir Singh and Harinaam Verma.
Mahendra Singh Tikait was an influential farmer leader in western Uttar Pradesh.
He was born on October 6, 1935 at Sisauli village in Muzaffarnagar district and was the founder president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union.
He died in Muzaffarnagar on May 15, 2011 at the age of 75. The BKU was founded in 1987 and its current president is Naresh Tikait.