In a show of strength here by protesting farmers, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait on Wednesday warned the government that it could find it difficult to stay on in power if the new agri-marketing laws are not repealed.
Just before Tikait was to begin his speech at the 'mahapanchayat' in Kandela village, the stage on which the farmer leaders had gathered collapsed under their weight.
Nobody was reported hurt and the BKU leader went on to address the large gathering.
Calling for a "wapsi" (withdrawal) of the three new central laws, the BKU leader indirectly warned the Narendra Modi government that it could lose its "gaddi" (power) if the agitation continues.
"We have so far talked about "bill wapsi" (repealing the farm laws). The government should listen carefully. What will you do if the youth call for "gaddi wapsi" (removal from power)?" he said.
He asked the Centre to repeal the three laws and frame a new one to assure the continuation of the minimum support price (MSP) system.
The BKU leader from Uttar Pradesh has been camping at Ghazipur on the Delhi-UP border as part of a campaign by farmer unions against the central laws enacted in September. Farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, are also massed at Tikri and Singhu on the Delhi-Haryana border for two months.
After violence on Republic Day, police barricaded these protest sites with cement barriers and spikes on the roads leading to them.
Criticising the restrictions, Tikait said, "When the king is scared, he secures the fortress." He suggested that he would lay down on the nails embedded on the roads there so that others can cross them by stepping on him.
He said the Centre must talk with the farmer unions spearheading the agitation.
The 'mahapanchayat' was attended by Haryana BKU chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni and BKU leader from Punjab, Balbir Singh Rajewal. Over 50 "khap" leaders were also present.
Jind is often considered part of Haryana's political heartland and the 'mahapanchayat' was meant to muster support for the agitation. It was organised by Sarva Jatiya Kandela Khap headed by Tekram Kandela.
Shortly before Tikait was to speak, the makeshift stage collapsed. He appealed to the gathering not to panic and began his speech.
Farmer leaders said there were no reports of anyone being hurt.
Tikait said the campaign against the farm laws was going strong. "The way we are getting support from khap panchayats, we will win this fight." He urged everyone involved, particularly the youth, to keep protesting in a peaceful manner.
Tikait underlined the role played by farmers and their unions from Punjab. "We need their help. Haryana and Uttar Pradesh will back them. We will maintain the prestige of the farmer's turban," he said.
Five resolutions were passed at the "mahapanchayat". These urged the government to repeal the new laws, give a legal guarantee for the MSP, implement the Swaminathan Commission report, waive farm loans and release farmers arrested after the events in Delhi on January 26.
Khap leader Kandela said the prime minister and the Union home minister should directly talk with the protesting farmers.