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Lok Sabha polls 2024: We supported BJP in 2014, but it didn't live up to expectations, says BKU chief Naresh Tikait

However, Tikait, the 'Chaudhary' of the Balyan Khap of the influential Jat community in western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, said the BKU members are open to supporting any party's candidates in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
Last Updated : 15 April 2024, 09:09 IST
Last Updated : 15 April 2024, 09:09 IST

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Muzaffarnagar: Farmer leader Naresh Tikait says his Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) openly supported the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, but the party did not live up to their expectations after coming to power.

Tikait lamented that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre did not acknowledge the 'martyrdom' of around 750 farmers during a 13-month-long protest at Delhi's borders in 2020-21 and claimed that the saffron party 'reeks of dictatorship'.

However, Tikait, the 'Chaudhary' of the Balyan Khap of the influential Jat community in western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, said the BKU members are open to supporting any party's candidates in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

The BKU, part of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM),“ an umbrella body of farmers' unions, had participated in the major protests against the Centre in 2020-21 over the now-repealed agri-marketing laws.

"The Bharatiya Kisan Union is a big organisation where every member has some relation or link with one or the other party. Some are relatives of the candidates, some belong to the same community (as that of a candidate) or have ties at individual levels with them. So we are not very successful in making such decisions (for the BKU members) on whom to support," Tikait said.

"I have no hesitation in saying that we openly supported the BJP in 2014. I do not have any hesitation or reluctance in admitting it. But they did not leave up to our expectations. They had talked about 'Ram Raj'.... They might have worked well according to their standards but a lot remained ignored," Tikait told PTI at his family home in Sisauli village in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh.

Noting that India is a huge country with several problems, he said all the problems cannot be solved, but a lot of issues have been ignored by the government, particularly the farmers' woes.

"The farmers' protest went on for 13 months and around 750 farmers were martyred but they (government) are not even ready to acknowledge it. It was a huge movement that was discussed across the world," Tikait said.

On the Centre's functioning in the last 10 years, he said, "The BJP reeks of dictatorship. This government reeks of dictatorship. It is like an obstinate person says something and only that will be done. This is not how it (a country) functions. Sometimes the government has to bow down and sometimes people have to bow down. That is how it works."

"But for them, everything will have to happen as dictated by them as if it has been cast in stone. That is not how it works. The public is at the receiving end due to it and the government also has to face protests. The government, therefore, needs to strike a balance and create a good atmosphere," Tikait said.

Asked about the Rashtriya Lok Dal's (RLD) decision to support the BJP in the upcoming polls, he said the sudden decision of the Jayant Chaudhary-led party has left the people in the region 'shocked' and the BKU in 'regret'.

"There was no consultation with responsible people (about the RLD switching sides). The sudden decision has left people shocked. I was not consulted on this. But even if you leave me, there are other bigger people around who should have been consulted. But this regret will live on," Tikait said.

Asked if the BKU would oppose the RLD in the election, he said, "Not at all. Why would we say anything against them? It is just that we regret what has happened. There is no opposition to them (RLD), we do not oppose anyone."

About the upcoming polls, Tikait said there are several issues and the BKU has the support of a lot of people but it is not telling its members whom to vote for. However, he said a 'mahapanchayat' is scheduled in Sisauli on April 17 where a 'collective decision' could be taken regarding the polls.

"I do not have any hesitation in saying this, this is election time when they (people) listen less to us and that is an individual decision. We cannot decide for them. They should vote wherever they feel like but should not hold the flag of any party. It does not look nice if BKU office-bearers tag along with any candidate of any party or are seen in their cars. They should resist such practices and vote for whoever they wish to support."

"We have an election on April 19. If a candidate comes to your house, welcome them. Just resist roaming around with them. Maintain the dignity of the BKU's flag. The RLD, the SP or the BSP -- support whoever you want. We have good relations with everyone. This is my personal opinion. There will be a mahapanchayat here on April 17 and a collective decision would be taken then. There are several candidates, some educated people and some veterans are also in the race. We will be silent till April 17 and will take a decision on that day," he said.

Western Uttar Pradesh will go to polls on April 19 and April 26. The counting of votes will be taken up on June 4.

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Published 15 April 2024, 09:09 IST

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