Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait on Thursday indicated that the farmers’ protest against the three agricultural laws could last even five years, NDTV reported.

“If the government can run for five years, the farmers’ protest can also go on for five years,” the farmer leader told the news channel at the Ghazipur protest site, where protestors celebrated Diwali by lighting two diyas or earthern lamps for those who died during the agitation.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at Delhi’s border entry points since November 2020, seeking the withdrawal of the farm laws passed last September. Farmers fear that the laws will bring about corporate dominance of the agricultural sector.

On November 26, the farmers’ agitation will complete one year. Tikait said that the government last spoke to the protesting farmers in January, NDTV reported. “We have given the government an ultimatum till November 26 [to repeal the laws].” he told the news channel.

Tikait had on Monday said that farmers would intensify their protest if the government refused to accept their demands.

“The central government has time till November 26, after that from November 27, farmers will reach the border protest sites around Delhi by tractors from villages and strengthen the areas with solid fortifications,” Tikait had said.

Meanwhile, while speaking to NDTV on Thursday, Tikait denied speculation about a rift between him and Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farmers’ unions, had in October suspended Yadav, a member of its core committee, for visiting the family of a Bharatiya Janata Party worker who died in the violence in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3.

Tikait said that Yadav had taken time off to write a book. “He [Yadav is] resting and will be back on [November] 21,” Tikait added.