The farmer protests have been going on in the national capital since last few weeks. Long since, many diverse political and economic interest groups have hijacked the movement and set it on a path to failure. The government has called the farmers to talks repeatedly and also agreed to give in to their original demands. However, led by those interest groups, farmers have taken a maximalist position that has all but made the failure of their movement certain.
Changing goal posts
The initial demands of the protesters were influenced by their insecurities about the new laws. However, for 3-4 months after the new laws were notified, there was no protest. The laws were passed in June and were actually welcomed by the parties like Akalis and most economic and agriculture experts. The initial misgivings of ending of APMC and MSP were voiced in the succeeding months by farmers.
In next few weeks these transformed into a long list of demands starting with repealing the three laws and including removing restrictions on burning stubble, including MSP in law, making diesel cheaper for agriculture, shelving the Electricity Amendment Bill of 2020, making tolls free and even releasing the likes of Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam etc. These are all formal demands. The informal demands range from “Khalistan” to “Modi mar ja tu!”. Of course, the boycott of Baba Ramdev, Ambani and Adani, including destruction of the property of Reliance Jio also gives indication of the intentions of certain elements within the protesters.
The government on its part agreed to give an assurance on MSP and APMCs. It is even ready to talk on some other issues like stubble burning. However, the movement has already been hijacked and is now a thinly disguised political show. What could have been a success is now doomed to fail.
The regional nature of the movement is hard to ignore. The bulk of the farmers are from the areas most benefited by the Green Revolution i.e Punjab and Haryana. Of the 40 unions protesting, 32 are from Punjab. Although to fill in the quota, a few dozen to a few hundred farmers from other states are also present, however, there is no illusion that the bulk is from the Punjab. There are many reasons for this.
The biggest reasons are economic and these have been discussed threadbare in news. The commission agents or arhatiyas, the government and the farmers of Punjab are used to a system in which they get easy money. This easy money, through various subsidies, has led to a complete change in agrarian economy of Punjab. This economy guzzles water, pollutes air and soil, produces grains which even Punjabis don’t like to eat and has made Punjab the cancer capital of Bharat! Yet, easy money trumps all of this.
It is easy to mislead and exploit the Sikhs of Punjab. Many of them have genuine grievances against the government. This includes the unresolved cases against perpetrators of anti-Sikh riots of 1984. The historical baggage of 1980s and 1990s, combined with efforts by ant-Bharat forces has ensured that Sikhs are fed a diet of anti-Hindu and anti-Bharat propaganda. This started in Khalistani controlled Gurudwaras of Canada and UK and ultimately reached Bharat. This is supplemented with an a fake history where Sikhs are heroes, Hindus are greedy but powerless and then Hindus betray Sikh when they get power. All this was evident in the controversial speech by Yograj Singh at the protest venue. A supposedly pro-Hindu BJP at center is a convenient target for emotionally charged audience.
This has been an old project of Communists and Pakistanis. Communists have wanted to break Bharat into dozens of countries at least since 1940s. The Gangadhar Adhikari thesis, accepted by the Communist Party of India, states it clearly. Pakistan has been behind the Khalistan movement since inception. So how could they not make use of the opportunity when it presents itself?
Erosion of support
The movement initially saw support from farmers and even non-farmers for some time. However, with time, certain events have eroded its support. Initially, the people became wary of it because of the slogans in support of Khalistan. Then came the changing of tracks. Initially farmer leaders said they will protest at a site in Delhi. When given permission to do so, they refused and blocked the arterial roads to the capital.
This was followed by the set up of all modern conveniences at the site of protests. This would be the first protest, at least in history of Bharat, to have massage chairs, pizza delivery and assorted facilities. The answer was that farmers does not mean poor. But why were then the farmers being shown as if they are powerless and poor people oppressed by rich and powerful government and corporates?
The recent events of vandalism in Reliance Jio towers have also eroded the support. No one can justify such lawlessness in the name of protest. This is when Jio or Reliance is not even connected to the agri business! This is happening due to years of vilification of “Ambani and Adani” by the Congress and other parties.
That this is being done as Jio has announced plans for 5G in Bharat, points to role of China and their pet Communists of Bharat. Jio was listed by the US government among list of “clean telcos“, and naturally Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE would want Jio to be out of the way. This is despite the fact that it is solely due to Jio that Bharat has one of the cheapest data rates in the world. Ambani made investment of more than Rs. 1 lakh crore without a single rupee in revenue to make this happen. Of course, he wants profit and is entitled to it, but he has also democratized internet and for that, he should be treated as a hero, not a villain.
However, no capitalist can be a hero in communist mind. The biggest reason that this movement shall fail is the involvement of Communist leaders. History is witness that communism never brought prosperity to any part of the world. It has, however, brought bankruptcy, misery, poverty and death to many parts in world as well as in Bharat.
Take the example of mills of Mumbai. In 1982, Datta Samant, a pro-Communist trade union leader led a strike in Mumbai for increasing wages. The demands then shifted to scraping a law called Bombay Industrial Relations Act of 1947. After a long strike, which was as maximalist in its demands as the current farmer protests, the mills of Bombay closed and remain so to this day. Mill owners figured that paying the wages as demanded was economically not viable. Lakhs of workers lost permanent employment and were forced to enter unorganized sector.
The current protest has active involvement of communist leaders like Darshan Pal, Hannan Mollah and even Yogendra Yadav. Many of these are Maoist supporters and that is why we see demands like “release of students, activists” etc. in a “farmers” movement. They have emerged as the spokespersons of the farmers by their being the most aggressive and confrontational.
The communist theory is based on the “class conflict” and they see an opportunity to create and widen the conflict here. The communists take special joy in violence, and have a declared hostility against corporates and private investment. However, they have rarely succeeded in front of a united society and strong government.
The movement has definitely lost support among sections of the population after the changing of goal posts, acts of violence, Khalistani propaganda and Tikait’s anti-Brahmin rant. The regional nature of the movement means that government shall never repeal the acts, specially when many other farmer groups have showed support for the new laws.
The communist hijacking has led to the maximalist positions and inclusion of conditions that cannot be practically fulfilled. The genuine demands of the protesters have already been accepted. The continued protest, even with financial backing of doubtful sources and political backing of communists, congress and AAP etc., will not succeed in absence of a pan Bharat appeal, without a genuine basis and ultimately due to disillusionment of its own supporters.
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