The focus of the farmers’ agitation over the enactment of the three farm laws by Parliament has shifted to Haryana with farmers and khap leaders throwing their weight behind Rakesh Tikait, the BKU leader from Uttar Pradesh. The swing was evident at Wednesday’s mahapanchayat at Jind’s Kandela village, once the epicentre of a bloody farmers’ agitation over power bills waiver during the INLD rule, where farmers gathered in big numbers.
Tikait will hold another mahapanchayat on Sunday at Dadri.
In fact, farmers and khap leaders from Haryana are now holding the centre stage, literally overshadowing their counterparts from Punjab who were once spearheading the agitation.
Emotional call was turning point
As many as 115 khaps or clan-based bodies on Wednesday participated at the Kandela mahapanchayat. Tekram Kandela, head of the Kandela khap, who was the main organiser of the mahapanchayat, said 115 khaps out of Haryana’s nearly 160 bodies attended the meeting.
“The agitation picked up pace on January 27 night when Rakesh Tikait gave an emotional call. In no time, Chandigarh-Hisar highway was blocked, and farmers started mobilising for Ghazipur. Since then, the numbers have been increasing,” Kandela said.
Tikait emerging as face of agitation in Haryana
A retired political science professor from Bhiwani, Anant Ram, said the farm agitation has picked up pace in Haryana in the last seven days once the khaps came out in support of Tikait. “In fact, Tikait has become the face of the agitation and Haryana’s khaps have come out openly in his support. The agitation has picked up momentum in entire Haryana, except parts of Ahirwal region. The farmers, mostly from Jat community, have made this agitation an issue of their pride and prestige after Tikait accused BJP’s Loni MLA Nand Kishore Gurjar of threatening the protesters to vacate the protest site at Ghazipur border. The Kandela mahapanchayat has proved that there is huge current among farmers against three farm laws and the BJP-JJP rulling government in the Jat heartland,” he said.
Agitation turning into national agitation: Sampat Singh
Former Haryana minister and BJP leader Sampat Singh said the agitation got a shot in the arm after Tikait’s impassioned appeal. “I see it spreading out. Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are the new centres but it’s spreading to other states also. I would say it’s turning into a national agitation. It’s high time that the Central government acceded to the demand of the farmers. They should not be labelled as anti-BJP. Remember, they were the ones who helped BJP win 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana,’’ said Singh who as finance minister had negotiated with agitating farmers during the INLD reign.
Congress leader Karan Dalal said 52 khaps from Palwal alone have lent their support to the agitation. “The agitation was on the brink of collapse after the January 26 episode. But it’s now spreading like a wildfire and will swallow the ruling BJP,’’ Dalal, a former minister, said.
Rohtak-based political analyst Satish Tyagi said the agitators have gained sympathy from every section of society in Haryana. “Even women are turning up at large numbers. After the government stopped internet services, more people started gathering across toll plazas in Haryana. The farmers of central Haryana have accepted Tikait as their farm leader,’’ he said.
Ruling combine leaders face boycott
Farmers associated with 17 khaps in Jind had decided to socially boycott the BJP and Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) leaders. The Hooda khap had unanimously decided to restrict the entry of ruling party leaders. The Sarv Khap announced to send at least one person from each house to the protesting site.The Phogat khap has socially boycotted deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala, Bhiwani-Mahendergarh MP Dharambir Singh and former Dadri MLA Rajdeep Phogat, who is a chairman in the BJP-JJP government.