The UP government had increased police deployment at the Ghazipur border and the protest site could have been vacated in the night. But things took a turn when videos of Tikait breaking down went viral and farmers from Haryana and UP started gathering in the night itself.
Maha panchayats took place in different parts of Haryana and western UP and the farmers decided to come out in full support.
On Friday, a farmers’ mahapanchayat took place in Tikait’s native village of Sisauli in Muzaffarnagar which was attended by large gatherings of farmers. Tikait’s elder brother and BKU president Naresh Tikait appealed to the farmers to reach Ghazipur border in support of the movement.
Apart from this, different khap groups of Jat community held panchayats in their respective areas. Maham chaubisi, a khap group of 24 villages in Haryana and Khap chaurasi in Kharkadi Bawanwali were some of the major khap groups apart from Naresh Tikait’s Baliyan Khap.
“We will increase the intensity of the movement from here. We will make permanent arrangements on this border for our stay,” Rakesh Tikait told ET. “We are ready to talk to the government.”
Opposition parties also came out in support of the movement and a number of leaders called Tikait to express their support. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav and RLD leader Ajit Singh were some of the leaders who called Tikait.
On Friday, several political leaders also came to the protest site for the first time in support of the farmers’ movement. Farmer unions had earlier claimed that their movement was apolitical and they had not allowed any political party or leader on the stage. On Friday, however, Delhi’s deputy CM Manish Sisodia, RLD leader Jayant Choudhary and UP Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu reached the protest site at Ghazipur in Tikait’s support.
“This movement is apolitical. These leaders have come to support us. We thank them. They have not got on the main stage but are sitting below the stage,” Rakesh Tikait told ET.
RLD leader Jayant Choudhary, AAP MP Sanjay Singh and Congress leader Imran Masood also participated in the mahapanchayat in Muzaffarnagar.
With crowd swelling with every passing minute, Ghazipur is expected to be the nerve centre of the movement from where the next course of action of the movement will be decided in coming days. On Saturday, as announced by the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella organisation leading the protest, all farmers will observe a day-long fast across the country on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary.