Mahendra Singh Tikait (6 October 1935 – 15 May 2011) was a leader of Jat farmers in the western area of Uttar Pradesh state, India. He was born in 1935 at village Sisauli in Muzaffarnagar District of Uttar Pradesh. He was President of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, a farmers' movement, and was revered as the farmers’ "second messiah" after the Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh.
Tikait died in Muzaffarnagar on 15 May 2011 from bone cancer at the age of 75.
The hereditary title of Tikait was apparently conferred on his family by the seventh-century emperor Harshavardhan. Since then the title has been transferred to the eldest son of the family.
Tikait had become the chaudhary of Baliyan Khap, at the age of eight after his father’s death.
Tikait first became a significant figure in 1987 when he organised a campaign in Muzaffarnagar demanding the waiving of electricity bills for farmers.
Tikait's most spectacular show was at Delhi's Boat Club lawns in 1988 when nearly five lakh farmers from western Uttar Pradesh occupied the entire stretch from Vijay Chowk to India Gate. Delhi's power elite held out until the stench became too much to bear and after a week, the Rajiv Gandhi government bowed to his 35-point charter of demands that included higher prices for sugarcane and the waiving of electricity and water charges for farmers.
In July 1990, Tikait protested in Lucknow with over two lakh farmers, urging the Government of Uttar Pradesh to concede to the farmers' demand for higher sugarcane prices and heavy rebates in electricity dues. The pressure tactics worked and the then Janata Dal-controlled government bowed to the demands.
In 1992, Tikait was back in Lucknow to stage a month-long sit-in panchayat in pursuance of his demand for writing off farmers' loans up to Rs 10,000. The same year, he launched a Farmers Land Compensation Movement in Ghaziabad, seeking higher compensation towards the acquired land of farmers.
Tikait was arrested on several occasions, the last being on 2 April 2008 for allegedly making derogatory and caste-based remarks against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati at a rally in Bijnore on 30 March 2008. It took a contingent of 6,000 armed policemen to lay a siege around his village for his arrest. He was released only after tendering an apology to the Chief Minister. When things were back to normal, Mayawati described Tikait, in a condolence message, as a "true and committed leader of farmers".
Tikait had a firm belief in his caste's traditions and culture. He opposed the Supreme Court decision that marriages between people from the same gotra were valid. "We live by a moral code where honour has to be protected at any cost. Same gotra marriages are incestuous, No society would accept it. Why do you expect us to do so? Incest violates maryada (honour) and villagers would kill or be killed to protect their maryada," he had said in a TV interview.