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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Deciphering farmers’ protest at Delhi

To understand the current protests, we need to look further back. Ever since Narendra Modi got elected as Prime Minister of Bharat in 2014, there have been several attempts to remove him from office. His opponents have explored all options -democratic and undemocratic to remove him from office.

They tried to defeat him in elections in 2019 but failed miserably in the contest.  They tried the stunt of “Award Wapsi” to malign his image, ran the malicious campaign of “Intolerant India”, resorted to abusive personal attacks, spread canards like suit-boot ki Sarkar, and even tried to outdo BJP by pretending to be more Hinduwadi than the BJP. Since all of the above methods failed, they have resorted to street demonstrations to corner the government. 

It started with the encircling of Shaheen Bagh by Muslims to demand the cancellation of the CAA bill. The lenient attitude towards protestors encouraged them to stay put. Consequently, the country suffered a huge loss. The protesting mobs burnt and destroyed public as well as private properties, including railway stations. The Shaheen Bagh protest inspired similar protests across the country.

It would not be wrong to say that Shaheen bagh protestors drew inspiration from the protests in different parts of the world in 2019. Some of these protests led to the downfall of strong leaders who once appeared invincible. The leaders of Bolivia, Algeria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Sudan are no more in power due to such protests. 

The forces that engineered the Shaheen Bagh protests and subsequent riots are active again. This time they have surrounded New Delhi in the name of farmers. To understand the current protests is to understand the world of conspirators, who descend to the city sometimes as farmers and other times as helpless religious minorities. 

However, one needs to keep in mind that all those who descended in Delhi two months back were not politically motivated. There were groups of farmers who were genuinely apprehensive about the outcome of such laws. They hit the streets due to the Modi government’s failure to market the reforms early on. 

Realizing its mistake, the government went into damage control mode and tried to connect with farmers. Several rounds of talks were held to address the concerns. As a consequence, several farmers were convinced and vacated the streets. Many farm unions have openly endorsed these laws. Only a handful of farm unions from Punjab and Haryana are still not convinced. The handful of farm unions (primarily from Punjab and Haryana) such as Sanyukta Kisan Morcha and BKU have indicated from the very beginning that they are in no mood to listen. They have frequently changed their demands and proved to be a hard nut to crack. 

Some say that BKU spokesperson Rakesh Tikait genuinely sees the farm laws as a threat for farmers and does not have any political ambitions. But the argument cuts no ice as he has contested elections in the past. Moreover, even if he genuinely feels about the laws, he has no right to instigate people to violence.

Several union leaders, including Rakesh Rakesh Tikait, have been caught on camera urging protestors to carry sticks and march towards Red Fort. The provocative speeches resulted in large scale violence, including attacks on police personnel and destruction of public property on the occasion of Republic Day. In another video that has gone viral, Tikait is spewing venom against temple goers and Pandits. 

When one reflects on the current protests, several questions come to mind. What types of farmers leave their farms to block reforms? What kind of farmers are these who attempt to take over public buildings and monuments to force the government to meet their demands? What sort of farmers assemble to discuss farm laws but instead raise religious slogans of Muslims and Sikhs and mock the religious practices of Hindus?

The protestors are also accusing the government of being pro-capitalists. Ironically, protestors are using tractors, an industrial product, as a symbol of their protest. If people stop working in industries, who will consume farm products? Like farmers, entrepreneurs play a role in the making of a nation. Hence, no one has the right to demonize industrialists without any reason. 

The union leaders refuse to take responsibility for the violence and are in no mood to vacate the streets. They are planning to move towards the Parliament. The protestors are planning to sow discord across Bharat and reap a bumper harvest. It is time the government acts tough. 

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