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A look at ‘farmer leaders’

Rakesh Tikait, the self-proclaimed farmer leader, and the face of the farmers’ protest at Delhi border, born in a middle-class family, once a constable in Delhi police, now has business in four states and thirteen cities. His wealth is estimated at 80 Cr!

Rakesh Tikait

He contested Lok Sabha election from Amroha in 2014 and received 9,539  (0.88%) of the votes cast (10,82,480). Amroha district has rural population of about 50% (9,20,000) and literacy rate of 50.21%. Clearly, even the farmers of Amroha did not vote for ‘Kisan Leader’ Rakesh Tikait.

Another ‘Kisan Leader’ face at the protest is Gurnam Singh Chaduni, an ‘agriculturist and commission agent (Arhtiya).’ He contested the 2019 Assembly elections from Ladwa Rural (General) constituency in Haryana and received 1,307 (0.95%) votes!  Not even the farmers voted for the self-proclaimed ‘Kisan Leader.’

Gurnam Singh Chaduni

Another ‘Kisan leader’ Surjit Singh Phool was arrested in 2009 and jailed for having links with Maoists. 

These ‘Farmer Leaders ‘ are in the same mould as of Arvind Kejriwal, not of Anna Hazare, of India Against Corruption (IAC) movement. In the same mould as of Ajit Singh, not of Chaudhary Charan Singh or Mahendra Singh Tikait. Not in the same mould as of Sir Chhotu Ram in undivided Punjab, Sahajanand Saraswati in Bihar, Baldev Ram Mirdha in Rajasthan, N G Ranga in Andhra,  M D Nanjundaswamy, and Sharad Joshi?

Do you blame me for being sceptical of Tikait and other similar rich persons (Arhtiya) sitting at Delhi border – whose businesses are making money even as they are sitting in protest – claiming to be farmers espousing the cause of the small and marginal farmers? Can a small farmer, one with two hector or less of land – 87% of Indian farmers fall in that category –  an average monthly income of 8,931 and average monthly household expenditure of 7,152, afford to sit in protest for months instead of sweating his blood out in his tract of land?

Therefore, should we be surprised that farmers protest has not raged across the country? How many of the 718 districts of India heeded the ‘Chukka Jam’ on 06 February call by the ‘Kisan Leaders’?

I cannot end this piece without this aside (soliloquy):  

Will farmer Robert Vadra jump into the ‘farmer protest’ fray? He has excellent credentials to be a ‘Kisan Leader.’ He was a low net worth dealer in brass handicrafts and fashion accessories. But in 2007 he became a ‘farmer,’ more precisely a dealer in agricultural land. And lo and behold! Within three years his investment of ₹ 50 lakh turned into hundreds of crores and today his net worth is over ₹ 1,000 crore! Even more amazing, he accomplished this feat without any ‘business activity’ in his companies. Even celebs like Bill Gates, Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, and others took much longer than farmer Vadra to become millionaires.

Robert Vadra and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

Vadra the farmer has not contested any election. But he says, “I can definitely win (an election) from anywhere …” To be fair to farmer Vadra, he said that in 2010, that is much before brother-in-law, RaGa, lost the election from the family fiefdom of Amethi.

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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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