Updated: February 5, 2021 10:55:04 am
On Thursday, 15 MPs from 10 Opposition parties, including SAD, DMK, NCP and Trinamool Congress, were stopped by police from meeting the protesting farmers at Ghazipur border.
Besides former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who coordinated the visit, Supriya Sule from NCP, Kanimozhi and Tiruchi Siva from DMK and Saugata Roy from TMC were part of the delegation that also had members of National Conference, RSP and IUML. While they were not allowed to cross the police barricades, they later said the situation at Ghazipur border was like that of India-Pakistan border and the condition of the farmers resembles prisoners in jail. Several other political leaders had till just a day ago managed to reach the site and extend support to the farmers, of whom a large faction is led by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson Rakesh Tikait.
Unlike Singhu and Tikri borders, where no political leader has been allowed by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the rules at Ghazipur protest seem a bit relaxed. The political leaders, though welcomed, have not yet been granted the stage to address the farmers.
On February 2, Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut met Tikait at Ghazipur and pledged support. Before Raut, Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal had called on Tikait on January 31. The same day, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Chautala, who had earlier resigned from Haryana assembly in support of the farmers’ agitation, too visited Ghazipur and met Tikait.
Abhay had also visited Singhu border, but was not allowed in.
Incidentally, BKU Haryana president Gurnam Singh Chaduni was earlier put in the dock by the unions after he agreed to attend a Kisan Sansad organised on January 24-25 where MPs from all parties were invited.
Asked about the “soft stand” over politicians entry at Ghazipur, Dr Darshan Pal, the working group member of All India Kisan Sangrash Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) and a member of the SKM, said, “Yes, Abhay Chautala was not allowed at Singhu and SKM has a policy that no politician should share stage with the farmer leaders. Many faces came to Ghazipur, but none of them have shared stage or addressed the farmers. They only came to extend their support. Ghazipur morcha is being handled by a committee of AIKSCC where 4-5 unions are working. We had asked Tikait and he confirmed that no one spoke from the stage. We will discuss the matter again”.
Pal added: “Our stand is still the same that this is a farmer’s struggle with no political involvement”. He said Tikait is not part of SKM, though he “comes regularly for meetings” and is protesting at a common platform against the farm laws.
Rajinder Singh Deep Singh Wala, general secretary of Kirti Kisan Union too said that they will discuss the issue in the SKM meeting. “Moreover, political leaders are not speaking from that stage”.
Prem Singh Bhangu, president, All India Kisan Federation, said that there shouldn’t be any objection to politicians reaching the sites and sitting with the protesters. He was seconded by BKU (Dakaunda) chief Buta Singh Burjgill. “It is okay, if a person comes, extends support and leaves. Tikait has told us that no politician has been allowed on stage,” Burjgill said, adding, “we are not seeking any political support”.
BKU (Ugrahan) president Joginder Singh Ugrahan, however, is more steadfast on the rules. “We don’t allow politicians to come on stage, or even sit in our pandal. But this is our union’s decision and we cannot impose it on anyone else.” “We are not part of SKM. Tikait is also not part of SKM,” he added.
It may be mentioned that Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Jayant Chaudhary was the first political leader to meet Tikait. Later, Congress Rajya Sabha member Deepender Hooda, his party colleagues Alka Lamba, Ajay Kumar Lallu, Anil Kumar Chaudhary also met Tikait. Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia too had visited Ghazipur protest site to oversee arrangements of water, toilets and also met Tikait.
So far, not a single known political face has ever visited the Singhu or Tikri protest sites. In fact, those who tried, faced protests. It happened in case of Punjab MPs Ravneet Singh Bittu and Gurjeet Singh Aujla when they visited a place near Singhu for Kisan Sansad.
Even in Punjab, politicians had faced protests when they tried to enter the farmers’ pandal.