Legacy is created by the forefathers, but it is up to the future generations to keep it intact. This responsibility becomes even more so when political clout is inherited. It would not be an exaggeration to say that India is a son-dominated country.
The son considers the father’s authority as the birthright, and this system keeps on going from generation to generation. It is obvious that legacy is never decided based on merit but birth. This is especially prevalent in rural India, where the father’s turban is tied to the son’s head.
In 1986, Chaudhary Charan Singh started falling ill, Chaudhary Mahendra Singh Tikait, the chief of the Baliyan Khap Panchayat, emerged as the new messiah of the farmers after the departure of farmer leader Chaudhary Charan Singh. Tikait had defeated Ajit Singh in the battle of supremacy, and millions of farmers of the country had expressed faith in Tikait. However, on the ground politics, Ajit Singh continued to get the support of Tikait.
Chaudhary Mahendra Singh Tikait wanted to remain a farmer leader while staying away from active politics. In the same year, he also founded the Indian Farmers Union. After 1986, Chaudhary Tikait played a role in almost every major peasant movement. But after 2000, along with him, his influence also started to loosen.
Mahendra Singh Tikait died in May 2011, and the turban of Baliyan Khap Panchayat was tied to his elder son Naresh Tikait. Naresh Tikait was also appointed President of the Indian Farmers Union. Naresh Tikait’s younger brother Rakesh was made the national spokesperson of BKU. Rakesh Tikait had tried his hand in politics, but the hand lines did not support him. Both the brothers were well aware that the father’s influence had left with the father.
Then came the opportunity, which the Tikait brothers had been looking for years. The Modi government passed the agriculture reform bill at the centre, and there were voices of protest from Haryana and Punjab. The movement had grown in Punjab and Haryana’s womb under the leadership of leaders like Darshan Pal Singh, Yogendra Yadav and Rajewal.
The Tikait brothers raised hopes of gaining the father’s legacy through the movement and quickly joined the movement. If the elder brother lived in the background, the younger would speak fiercely against the government in his typical native style. The movement in western Uttar Pradesh did not seem to have much effect, but the Tikait brothers were getting media coverage.
But the picture suddenly changed when tears came out of Rakesh Tikait’s eyes on 28 January. He had become the hero of the movement overnight, where on one side the Samyukt Kisan Morcha was keeping a distance from politicians, on the other hand, Manish Sisodia, Raghav Chaddha and Jayant Chaudhary had reached in the next morning at Ghazipur border.
In 2017, Uttar Pradesh Assembly Election, the Baliyan Khap Panchayat gave its support to Sanjeev Balyan of the BJP and not Ajit Singh, which means that the Tikait brothers sought to distance themselves from the RLD and tried to explore their future in the Bharatiya Janata Party. But in the BJP they did not get any particular benefit, then the Tikait brothers had gone out searching for a new future in the peasant movement.
RLD also took advantage of this opportunity, Chaudhary Ajit Singh knows that he needs Tikait brothers and Tikait brothers to need him. On 29 January, there was a Mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar in which Naresh Tikait’s old partner Ghulam Mohammad Jola also supported the Tikait brothers and reminded the mistake of 2017. Naresh Tikait also accepted the mistake and said that we had made a big mistake by not supporting Chaudhary Ajit Singh.
It is not at all justified to admit political error in a Mahapanchayat called for a non-political movement. After this, the Tikait brothers organized Mahapanchayats from UP to Haryana and demonstrated their power everywhere. The Tikait brothers were well aware that the movement to gain political ground cannot be kept as non-political. While politicizing the movement, Rakesh Tikait has become the strongest, and currently, Samyukt Kisan morcha needs him. While on the one hand, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha was trying to keep the movement non-political, on the other hand, the Tikait brothers brought big leaders of big parties at Ghazipur border.
There is no doubt that Rakesh Tikait has become the biggest face of the movement, but there is no doubt that he is avoiding making the Samyukt Kisan Morcha a partner in his decisions. On 6 February, Rakesh Tikait, deciding on his own of the chakkajaam across the country, showed that he is moving ahead of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha to pursue his political interests.
In his typical native and rustic style, Tikait has taken a large crowd with him and is seen to be walking based on his strategy. Every movement in the country has produced small and prominent leaders, be it the JP movement or the Anna movement. In such a situation, it can be said that the stars of the Tikait brothers are in the sky. But it is not morally correct to divert any movement of personal interest. In such a situation, the Tikait brothers have to understand that their success is in the farmers’ success. Politicizing a non-political movement is the same as a black ink stain on a white shirt.