Internal divisions of the Bhartiya Kisan Union came out in the open on Sunday, when a top leader split from the union to announce the formation of an apolitical outfit, as he alleged that Tikait brothers at the helm of BKU had become "puppets" of political parties.
BKU's Rajesh Chauhan said in an event in Lucknow on Sunday, which marked the death anniversary of BKU founder-president Mahendra Singh Tikait, that he took the decision after being "insulted". The new outfit will be called Bhartiya Kisan Union (Arajnaitik), said Chauhan. "Arajnaitik" in Hindi means apolitical.
Chauhan also alleged that BKU sided with political parties in the elections — an apparent reference to this year's UP assembly elections.
A senior office-bearer of the new outfit, Harinaam Singh, told PTI that Chauhan announced the formation of the outfit in Lucknow on the death anniversary of farmer leader Mahendra Singh Tikait. "Chauhan will be heading the BKU (A)," he said.
Chauhan alleged that he from time to time tried to put forward his opinion but he was ignored.
Senior BKU leaders Naresh Tikait and Rakesh Tikait "neither listen to workers nor pay any attention to problems of farmers", said Chauhan.
He said, "They have got into bad company and insulted us in one or the other way. I wholeheartedly supported Naresh Tikait and Rakesh Tikait but when the elections came, they deviated from the ideal of Mahendra Singh Tikait.
"They ventured into political mess and had made this organisation a puppet in the hands of political parties. I was extremely saddened and pained by this.
"Rakesh Tikait was influenced by political parties. He campaigned for one party, while opposed the other party."
While making these allegations, Chauhan did not name any political party. The BKU's Tikait brothers were among the prominent leaders of the 13-months-long farmers' protests against the Union government's thre farm laws that were eventually repealed.
Following the protests, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha — an umbrella farmers' body — had launched a "punish BJP" campaign in Uttar Pradesh, where farmer leaders toured several places and highlighted the anti-agriculture policies of the saffron party and issues like inflation, alleged corruption and the Lakhimpur Kheri violence in which a Union minister's son is among the accused.
Chauhan claimed that he was a "senior sipahi" of the BKU than Naresh Tikait and Rakesh Tikait. He also cleared that he formed the new organisation and has not shown doors to Naresh Tikait and Rakesh Tikait as shown in certain sections of the media.
"They [Tikait brothers] belong to the BKU while my organisation is BKU(A). This is a new organisation and we do not want any controversy," Chauhan said.
Mahendra Singh Tikait was an influential farmer leader in western Uttar Pradesh.
He was born on October 6, 1935 at Sisauli village in Muzaffarnagar district and was the founder president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union. He died in Muzaffarnagar on May 15, 2011 at the age of 75. The BKU was founded in 1987 and its current president is Naresh Tikait.
(With PTI inputs)