Rakesh Tikait, national spokesperson for the Bharatiya Kisan Union, speaks to Gaon Connection on the long agitation that has led to the farm laws being repealed, but says there is still a long way to go before the agitating farmers go back home to their villages and farms.
On November 19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the three farm laws against which farmers have been protesting for a year, since November 26, would be repealed. He had also said the protesting farmers, who had picketed themselves in the border of the national capital at Singhu and Tikri, could now return to their homes and farms.
However, though there has been a ceasefire between the central government and the agitating farmers, the latter are not in any hurry to go home until the issues they were protesting were dealt with to their satisfaction.
Gaon Connection, met Rakesh Tikait, the national spokesperson for the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), from Uttar Pradesh, and a leader of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, a coalition of farmers unions. Tikait was in Uttar Pradesh’s state capital Lucknow to attend the Kisan Mahapanchayat organised on November 22.
The farmer leader said now that the government should proceed with the repealing of the laws in parliament, discuss and resolve the matter of the minimum support price (MSP) and begin fresh negotiations with the farmers. Till that happens, there is no question of the protesting farmers returning home, Tikait said.
GC: Has this been a comprehensive victory for the protesting farmers?
We want more conversations with the government over this matter. Let the negotiations begin now that a ceasefire has been declared. Now the focus should be on conflict resolution by the government.
GC: Is the government constituting a committee to resolve the MSP matter?
Let them make a committee. We will also be a part of it, won’t we. We will wait and see what the committee will be about, who forms it, when it will be formed… Just start the conversation is what we want to say to the government. Let the government show us the way. For a year now, the farmers have forgotten the way to their homes. Tell us what path you plan to take.
GC: Do the farmers have an agenda about the MSP issue?
All agendas are ready. They will come up when the government begins talking to us. The matter of farmers getting a good price for their produce will be discussed and decided when the conversations with the Indian government begins.
GC: The Prime Minister referred to organic farming and the Subhash Palekar model of natural and organic farming…
Where is the marketing infrastructure for zero budget organic farming? How do we promote it? Is there any plan or time scale for moving to that kind of agriculture? There was talk of doubling the income of farmers by 2022… what is happening on that front? Let the government discuss it face to face with us.
GC: What is your role as a farmer leader?
I am just a farmer, like everyone else here. I am no leader. I am also facing losses as a farmer. No single leader or flag is more important than the others. We are all part of a whole, it is Samyukta Kisan Morcha. Every single farmer matters.
GC: Are all the farmers unions that are part of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha in agreement over the main matters to be discussed?
This movement is principally about the three farm laws, the MSP and Seed Bill. And the need to get together and discuss the matters face to face.
GC: So the farmers welcome the move of the Prime Minister (repealing of the farm laws)?
He has done the right thing.
GC: The Vidhan Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and other states are round the corner. Do you think the repealing of the farm laws and the other promises made by the Prime Minister, will appease the farmers?
We have to wait and watch. It all depends on how the discussions proceed. It is only on the basis that will the votes be cast.
Read the story in Hindi.