By Atul Chandra
Just when the Lakhimpur Kheri incident was going out of hand, the Uttar Pradesh government deployed some senior bureaucrats and police officers who wield influence on Rakesh Tikait, the Bharatiya Kisan Union leader. He is also at the forefront of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha which is opposing the three farm laws passed by the Central government over a year back.
Roping in Rakesh Tikait to bring about an amicable end to the standoff between farmers and the government over the mowing down of four farmers by a car allegedly driven by the son of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra was a master stroke. The deal reached between the angry farmers and the UP government for the lodging of FIR against the minister’s son and payment of compensation to the deceased’s families and to the injured lowered temperatures. It also showed the BKU leader’s proximity with the government through some bureaucrats and police officers.
The police, who ought to have arrested the minister’s son accused of murder, have not even arrested the minister’s son. As had happened in the Hathras rape case the entire state machinery has succeeded in putting the entire issue on the back-burner of investigation and judicial inquiry which are rarely fair.
Coming back to Tikait, his intervention has an important implication for politics in western Uttar Pradesh. The BKU leader’s intervention did not come as a surprise. He had backed the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. But Tikait’s presence as a mediator and pacifier is also being interpreted as a softening of stance by Tikait. This could prove advantageous for the BJP in western UP where poll-related assessments were focused on farmers’ anger against the government.
Rakesh Tikait is not just a leader of farmers but also an unsuccessful politician having fought the 2014 election on Rashtriya Lok Dal ticket. He was supported by the Congress in the 2007 Assembly polls. Given this background, it won’t be surprising if Tikait once again backs the BJP in 2022 Assembly poll and reach a compromise on the farm laws.
If roping in Rakesh Tikait was a smart political move, allowing Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to go up to Sitapur before she was detained and subsequently arrested was an even cleverer move by the Yogi government. It is common knowledge that it is the Samajwadi Party which is the BJP’s main challenger in UP and not the Congress.
However, Akhilesh Yadav was not allowed to move beyond his house while Priyanka Gandhi grabbed all the media attention. Overnight the Congress, which is nowhere in contention, was made to appear as the main challenger. The move could prove advantageous for the BJP if the false sense of Congress upsurge will take some of the SP voters away from it.
The BJP has done this to avoid a direct fight with the SP. West Bengal has shown that in a direct fight the BJP’s chances of winning get slimmer. The Congress and the Samajwadi Party should both be able to see through the BJP’s game plan and devise a strategy accordingly.