Nand Kishore Gurjar said Rakesh Tikait should apologise to people (File)
BJP MLA Nand Kishore Gurjar, accused by the farmers protesting at the Ghazipur border of trying to disrupt their agitation with his supporters, has made controversial remarks against influential farmer leader Rakesh Tikait, who has been leading the protest against the centre's three agriculture laws at the UP-Delhi border.
The lawmaker, who denied the farmers' accusation, said he is a "bigger farmer" than the Bharatiya Kisan Union chief because he owns more land than him. He also made a personal attack at Mr Tikait, alleging he "has heard that Mr Tikait goes anywhere for just Rs 2,000".
"I am a farmer myself. Rakesh Tikait is not a bigger farmer than me. He wouldn't own even half the land I own. Tikait should apologise. You cannot divide farmers in the country. History will remember them," he told reporters.
Asked if he had tried to break the agitation and incited his supporters to be violent, Mr Gurjar again denied having gone to the protest site. "Who says this is a farmers' protest. You go and see; four people of a political party are sitting there. Is this a farmers' protest? Today, only political workers are sitting there; they can be farmers, they can be labourers," Mr Gurjar said.
Last week, Mr Tikait broke down on camera while talking to reporters after the farmers had been asked by the local administration to clear the area. He had alleged a conspiracy to break the protest by force.
"I respect Tikait's family, but people used to say about Rakesh Tikait that he would go anywhere for Rs 2,000. It is very unfortunate. He should not do it. Where are you taking the agitation? Tomorrow you will say that terrorists have come to kill you. Manufacturing riots - this is not a good thing," he added.
Mr Tikait's breaking down on camera seems to have galvanised his supporters in the farmer community in western Uttar Pradesh. There have been massive Mahapanchayats or meetings in the region, and thousands are reported to have reached or planning to reach the protest site near Delhi.
The Delhi Police, anticipating an influx of protesters, has fortified its positions at the three main protest sites – Singhu, Ghazipur, Tikri – with metal barricades, concrete boulders, barbed wires and spikes embedded in roads to stop tractors.
The Delhi Police on Tuesday said the unprecedented arrangements were made to avert a Republic Day-like situation, when thousands of protesters had barged into the national capital on tractors and clashed with the security personnel.