Rakesh Tikait is a farmers’ leader, politician, and the national spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisna Union (BKU). He is a son of late Mahendra Singh Tikait, one of the most influential farmers’ leaders in the history of independent India. In 2020, Rakesh Tikait came to the limelight after he participated in the farmers’ agitation against the three farms laws that were passed by the Parliament of India in September 2020.
Rakesh Tikait was born on Wednesday, 4 June 1969 (age 51 years; as of 2020) in Sisauli village, located in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh. His zodiac sign is Gemini. He went to D.A.V. Inter College, Sisauli, Muzaffarnagar and then completed high school from Kisan Inter College Lalu Kheri, Muzaffarnagar in 1986. He did secondary schooling from Board of High School and Intermediate Education Uttar Pradesh in 1988. Thereafter, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut (formerly Meerut University).
Height (approx): 5′ 10″
Hair Color: Salt and Pepper
Eye Colour: Black
Family & Caste
Parents & Siblings
Rakesh Tikait is the younger son of the renowned farmer leader Mahendra Singh Tikait, who spent his entire life fighting for the interest of farmers. Mahendra was revered by the farmers as their second messiah after the fifth Prime Minister of India, Chaudhary Charan Singh.
Mahendra Singh Tikait passed away of bone cancer at the age of 76 on 15 May 2011. Rakesh Tikait’s mother, Baljori Devi, is also no more.
Tikait’s elder brother, Naresh Singh Tikait, is the president of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU). Naresh Tikait was given the post after the death of his father.
Apart from Naresh, Rakesh has four other siblings; two younger brothers, Surendra Tikait, (manager at a sugar mill in Meerut) and Narendra Tikait (farmer), and two sisters.
Wife & Children
Rakesh Tikait is married to Sunita Devi.
The couple has one son, Charan Singh Taikit, and two daughters, Seema and Jyoti.
As a Police Personnel
Rakesh Tikait has worked as a constable in the Delhi Police for a brief period. He resigned from the Delhi Police’s job during the 1992-93 farmers’ protest, which was led by his father, Mahendra Singh Tikait, to join the then ongoing movement. Aaj Tak
Rakesh Tikait has fought in two different elections. The first was in 2007 Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly election when Rakesh contested from Muzaffarnagar’s Khatauli assembly seat as an independent candidate. He could only garner 9,095 votes in that election. Result University On 14 March 2014, Rakesh Tikait joined the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), a political party founded by Chaudhary Charan Singh’s son, Ajit Singh. His decision to join RLD came as a surprise to people, as he had previously been critical of RLD and had supported the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Talking about the reason behind his decision to join RLD, Tikait stated,
I had to choose between RLD and others. I found RLD better. It is the party that has taken up the issue of farmers.”
Ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha Election, RLD fielded Rakesh Tikait as its candidate from the Amroha Lok Sabha constituency. Rakesh had to face a defeat again, receiving 9,539 votes that were only 0.62% per cent of the total votes polled. Result University
Rakesh Tikait was elected as the national spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Union in 1997. Since then, he has been fighting for the rights of farmers.
Reportedly, Rakesh Tikait once demanded the Rajasthan government to increase the price of millet procurement from the farmers. Later, he demonstrated a protest against the government after it refused to accept the demand. Consequently, the Rajasthan government increased the price of millet for farmers. Rakesh was also arrested and sent to Jaipur jail amid the protest.
The 2018 Kisan Kranti Yatra
Eventually, the union government ministers met Tikait and other farmer leaders and persuaded them to end the agitation. Tikait and other leaders agreed to the government’s assurance to set up a committee that would look at the demands of farmers, and thus the protest was called off.
2020-21 Indian Farmers’ Protest
In September 2020, the Government of India passed three farm bills in the Indian parliament. Soon after the acts were introduced, many farmer unions, including the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), held protests against the laws and subsequently demanded to repeal them. Rakesh Tikait became a prominent face of the movement.
Rakesh Tikait was one of the farmers’ leaders who participated in 12 round of talks with the government for resolving the dispute.
After two months of peaceful sit-down protests, on 26 January 2021, farmers held a tractor march into Delhi from their protest sites at Singhu border, Tikri border, and Ghazipur border. Rakesh Tikait was one of the organisers of the program. As the rally started, a group of protesters deviated from the assigned route for the rally, broke through barricades, and entered central Delhi. The rally in central Delhi turned violent, leaving 394 security personnel injured and one agitator dead. Consequently, various government authorities laid pressure on farmers to vacate the protest sites. Heavy security forces were sent to various protest sites, including the Ghazipur border protest site where the agitation was being led by Bhartiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait. The Ghaziabad administration gave an ultimatum to farmers to vacate the Ghazipur protest site and open the road blockade. Rakesh Tikait was asked to surrender before the police as he was named in one of the FIRs filed over the Republic day violence. Rakesh Tikait refused to give his arrest stated that the agitation will continue even if he has to face bullets. He said,
“They (government) are hatching a conspiracy to kill me in the name of arrest. Unwanted elements with arms are being sent to the protest site in vehicles with stickers of Lucknow Assembly. There has been no violence on the Ghazipur border. Despite this, the government is adopting a repressive policy. We want to court arrest peacefully. But it seems there is a plan to stir violence while protesters return. If there is any such plan, I will remain here. I will face the bullet. I will take my own life, but I won’t take back out from the protest till the laws are repealed.”
He also broke down in front of cameras while talking to media correspondents.
As videos of his breaking down and threats of hanging himself if the farm laws weren’t repealed went viral, a swarm of Tikait’s supporters started moving towards the Ghazipur border. The protest site, which was waning after the majority of protesters had made an exit considering Republic Day violence, started filling again. This forced the administration to call back the strong police deployment from the site and cancelled the action to vacate protest site. Electricity and water supply, which had been cut, was also restored after midnight. Apparently, Rakesh Tikait’s emotional breakdown outweighed the massive police deployment and once again revived the peasant movement.
- The hereditary title of “Tikait,” carried by Rakesh and the male members of Tikait family, was the title conferred to the head of Baliyan Khap by Raja Harshavardhana, the Jat ruler of Thanesar in the 7th century. Since then, it is being used by every head of the Baliyan Khap and his male family members as their surname. Rakesh Tikait’s brother, Naresh Tikait, is the incumbent head of the Baliyan Khap, who took over the position after the demise of his father, Mahendra Singh Tikait, in 2011.
- Although the reigns of the Bharatiya Kisan Union were transferred to Rakesh’s elder brother, Naresh Tikait, after the demise of his father (as per the rules of Khap which says that only the eldest son can be the head of the organisation), all the major decisions of BKU are still taken by Rakesh himself.
- According to media reports, Rakesh Tikait has gone to jail for more than forty times while protesting in the favour of farmers’ interest. Aaj Tak He has three pending criminal cases registered against him. My Neta
- Mahendra Singh Tikait had been arrested by the police several times. The most dramatic event in his life took place in 2008 when a contingent of around 10,000 policemen laid siege to Sisauli village to arrest Mahendra Singh Tikait. This happened after Mahendra allegedly made a derogatory casteist remark against the then CM of UP, Mayawati, during his speech at a farmers’ rally in Bijnor district. Thousands of Mahendra Singh’s supporters became a shield and prevented the police from entering the village. Consequently, large-scale clashes took place between Mahendra’s supporters and police. Later, Mahendra surrendered himself before the Bijnor court and was released after he issued an apology.
- The veteran farmer leader Mahendra Singh Tikait was also known for his simplicity. He used to sit and eat food among the farmers. Even during protests, he used to sit among the farmers instead of the stage.