Nearly four months after they began, the ongoing farmers agitation around the national capital shows no signs of stopping. Multiple rounds of talks with the government has failed to resolve the deadlock around the three contentious farm bills, and thousands remain camped at Delhi's borders. Now, the farmers have hit the campaign trial in West Bengal.
Mere weeks before the multi-phased Assembly elections, protesters have descended on the eastern state with a simple message: "no vote to BJP". The initiative in Bengal are being carried out by several groups associated with the farmers' protest and reports indicate that this is just one of many areas that they plan to agitate in.
On Saturday, farm leader and Bharatiya Kisan Union chief Rakesh Tikait reached Bengal to join the agitation against the BJP. A day earlier, he had taken to Twitter to reveal that he would be addressing the farmers' mahapanchayat in Nandigram and Kolkata. Recent reports had quoted him as clarifying that he was not going to Bengal to "seek votes".
But while the agitating farmers are not affiliated with any political party, West Bengal's ruling TMC appears to have found favour. According to updates shared by Journalist Sakshi Joshi, TMC leader and Rajya Sabha MP Dola Sen had received Tikait at the airport. Having addressed a mahapanchayat in Kolkata’s Bhowanipore area, the farm leader is now slated to address a gathering in Nandigram at 4 pm. He is also expected to visit Singur.
The farmers protest is not limited to West Bengal. As per reports, rallies are also being planned for parts of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Karnataka in the coming days. Tikait's efforts however is not being viewed favorably by the Opposition BJP.
"These are NOT farmers, these are politicians!," contended the BJP Mahila Morcha's National Incharge of Social Media, Priti Gandhi.
"Rakesh Tikait, who repeatedly describes his platform as completely non-political, seen with senior Congressman and former MP Badriram Jakhar leading a gathering of Congress leaders for the Kisan Mahapanchayat," she tweeted on