Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni, whose son is in jail over allegations of running over farmers last year, talks about "dogs barking and chasing his car" in an apparent reference to protesting farmers in a controversial speech live-streamed by his supporters.
Ajay Mishra, a Minister of State for Home in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, also describes farmer leader Rakesh Tikait as "do kaudi ka aadmi (worthless)" in yet another display of his arrogance and defiance.
Farmer leader @RakeshTikaitBKU is a ‘second rate person' ; ‘Dogs bark on the side of the road, have nothing to say about them' - the words of Union minister @ajaymishrteni at a speech in his constituency Lakhimpur Kheri live streamed by his supporters yesterday. pic.twitter.com/96rZTqxqPH— Alok Pandey (@alok_pandey) August 23, 2022
In response, Mr Tikait said: "His son has been in jail for a year, that is why he is angry."
The powerful minister projected himself as someone "fighting the world" as he addressed his supporters in Lakhimpur Kheri, his home turf in Uttar Pradesh.
" His son is in jail for a year that is why he is angry. There is goondaraj in Lakhimpur and people are scared of him. We will run a 'Lakhimpur Mukti Abhiyan' - @RakeshTikaitBKU on union minister @ajaymishrteni ‘s controversial remarks calling the farmer leader a 2nd rate person pic.twitter.com/YMtpm9c15t— Alok Pandey (@alok_pandey) August 23, 2022
"The media, the so-called farmers, the non-nationalistic political parties or terrorists sitting in Canada or Pakistan, I would never have imagined you would make me popular with them too. This is your strength. Because of you these people cannot figure out how to defeat me. The elephant keeps moving on its path, dogs keep barking," he said.
"Suppose I am travelling to Lucknow in a car and it's going at a good speed. Dogs bark. They bark on the roadside or chase the car. It's their nature. I will not say anything about that. We do not have this nature. Things will reveal themselves and I will respond to everyone. I am very confident because of your support," said the minister, who has never responded to media questions about his son.
"No one in the world will be able to disappoint you. No matter how many Rakesh Tikaits come - I know him very well, 'do kaudi ka aadmi hai', he fought two elections and lost his deposit (lost badly). If such a person protests, I do not respond. If his politics survives because of this, let it. I have never done anything wrong in my life," he said.
He later claimed he was only responding to viral videos of Mr Tikait 'badmouthing' the people of Lakhimpur. "Some video of Tikait in Lakhimpur went viral. I told my workers that it is beneath me to respond to Rakesh Tikait. Suppose someone is going somewhere and making all sorts of allegations - they can do it , I do not care," he sought to explain.
The minister's comments followed Rakesh Tikait's 72-hour farmers' protest at Lakhimpur Kheri to demand Mr Mishra's sacking as a minister.
"I am a small man, he is a big person, I took 50,000 people to Lakhimpur for a protest so he would get angry. There is goondaraj (lawlessness) in Lakhimpur and people fear him. We will run a campaign to free Lakhimpur," Mr Tikait said.
"He should not say these things, he tries to influence witnesses by these statements," added the farmer leader, who led an 11-month protest against the Centre's now-scrapped farm laws.
Mr Mishra has so far survived calls for his removal and was involved in the BJP's campaign during the UP election earlier this year. His son Ashish Mishra managed to get bail for the campaign. The Supreme Court cancelled his bail in April.
Ashish Mishra is accused of running over four farmers and a journalist during a protest against farm laws at Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3. Three more were killed in the violence that erupted after the killings. Ashish Mishra was allegedly part of his father's convoy, which encountered protesters on its way to an event in the area. He allegedly returned to the spot and crushed the farmers, the police say.