The Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) supported the BJP in earlier elections, but the party “only exploited farmers for its politics”, and “will definitely suffer in the upcoming UP election due to the farmers’ protest”, the union’s leader Naresh Tikait told The Quint.
Speaking to The Quint in an exclusive interview at his residence in Muzaffarnagar’s Sisauli, the farmer leader said that his union regrets supporting the BJP in the past.
“It’s a fact that the BKU supported the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the 2017 UP assembly polls, and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. But we did not like what came out of it. BJP didn’t stand true to its promises, and only exploited the support of farmers for their own politics,” Tikait said.
The Balyan Khap leader enjoys enormous following and influence among the Jat farmers of Western UP, along with his brother and BKU spokesperson Rakesh Tikait.
The BKU played a central role in the mammoth farmers protests that lasted over one year on the peripheries of the national capital, against the three farm laws brought in by the Modi government.
The BJP government finally withdrew the laws in November 2021, but Tikait says the repeal “will not be enough to soften the hearts of the farmers.”
“It was a 13-month long protest, we lost 700+ farmers, the farmer community won’t forget all that so easily. There is still a lot of anger in their hearts and the BJP will definitely suffer because of it,” Tikait said.
However, the leader refused to expressly state the BKU’s political allegiance in the 2022 UP polls, despite blessing two RLD candidates from Budhana and Meerapur seats of Muzaffarnagar earlier.
“I can’t alone decide this. The Samykut Kisaan Morcha, and the other members of the BKU need to have a joint discussion on this, and only then can we make a statement on which party we will support,” he said.
'HINDU YOUTH GOT INFLUENCED BY BJP'
The UP elections come almost a decade after the deadly 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots between Muslims and Jats of the district. Tikait said that the riots severely dented the equation between the two communities.
“The 2013 riots really hurt the relationship of the two communities (Jats and Muslims). A wall got built between them, but we have been able to bridge it in the last few years,” he said.
Tikait added that post the riots, the youth among the Jat community got influenced by BJP’s politics.
“The Hindu youths' hearts were poisoned and they failed to understand the politics happening then, they understood later how they were being exploited for politics. Since then we never let any Hindu-Muslim conflict happen again,” he said.
“We spoke to the local Muslim leaders, we also addressed the anxieties of the young Hindus and made them understand that they should focus on their studies, not on any Hindu-Muslim politics,” he added.