From Delhi police constable to a belligerent farmer leader: A brief profile of BKU’s Rakesh Tikait

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Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait is leading the farmer protests at Ghazipur border and he has sealed his position as the undisputed ‘Kisan Neta’ of Western Uttar Pradesh.

Tikait’s BKU is one among the several farmers’ unions which are against the three new farm laws introduced by the Centre. His elder brother, Naresh Tikait, is the national president of the BKU.

The BKU leader will be attending a farmers’ “Mahapanchayat” in Haryana’s Jind today during which he will try to garner support for the ongoing agitation against the farm laws. Tikait stated that such panchayats will be held across the country until the government repeals the three contentious farm laws. The Mahapanchyat at Jind will be attended by several khap leaders who are backing the agitation.

On Tuesday (February 2), while addressing the farmers at Singhu Border, Tikait had announced that the ongoing agitation will continue till October. He reiterated that the protesting farmers will not return home until the government decides to scrap the controversial farm laws. “Our slogan is – ‘kanoon wapsi nahi, to ghar wapsi nahi’, he said.

Since the mayhem that took place during the farmers’ tractor rally on the Republic Day, Tikait has been in the limelight, with some questioning him for his role in the violence. The police have filed an FIR against Tikait as well.

On January 28, when it looked that the farmers’ protest had lost its steam, Tikait resurrected the whole movement as he got emotional and broke down while talking to the media at Ghazipur border. The video of Tikait breaking down in public went viral within no time and thousands of farmers from Western UP and Haryana started trooping in at Ghazipur border to back the farmer leader.

Tikait is the son of legendary farmer leader Mahendra Singh Tikait, who is still remembered as the man who single-handedly united thousands of farmers from Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the country to start a protest against the Rajiv Gandhi government in the 90s.

But before he became a farmer leader, Rakesh Tikait worked as a Sub Inspector after joining the Delhi police in 1985.

During the farmers’ stir led by his father in the 90s, Rakesh Tikait faced political pressure to convince his father to call it back. Rakesh Tikait, however, failed to impress his father in ending the protest, and he himself decided to quit his job and joined the farmers in their agitation.

Rakesh Tikait also tried his luck at mainstream politics but without much success. In the 2007 Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, Tikait contested from Khatauli assembly seat in Muzaffarnagar as an independent but he failed to script a victory. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Tikait once again tried to enter the mainstream politics and contested as a candidate of Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal from Amroha, but he even failed to save his deposit.

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