By Arun Srivastava
With the RSS and BJP making all out efforts to reach out to the people for convincing them that the farmers’ movement for abrogation of the three farm laws was against the national interest and was systematically fading out, the farmer leaders are envisioning to expose the dirty design of the government by giving a major boost to their agitation from April.
Misusing the absence of the farm leaders from the agitation sites, who have been on a nationwide tour to organise the farmers to vote against the BJP, the RSS and BJP have been busy portraying a negative picture of the movement and telling the farmers in the remote rural areas that their leaders are no more willing to prolong the agitation. The saffron leaders argue that with the Modi government outright refusing to concede their demand of scrapping their demand, they are left with no other alternative but to surrender before the Modi government.
Nevertheless Narendra Modi’s think tank is scared of the impending future. They realise that the farmers’ agitation would erode the base and also tweak the political plank of Hindutva. One thing is noticeable that the onerous task that the RSS and BJP had undertaken in the past years to pit Hindus against the Muslims by inducing the psychological strategy “ threat to Hindutva” from Islam has been witnessing gradual weakening in the wake of the farmers’ movement.
The best example has been the emergence of new kind of bonhomie in several areas of Uttar Pradesh, particularly in Muzaffarnagar. The RSS has used this place to unleash a reign of terror against the Muslims and use the area as the laboratory to experiment its communal and hate politics. Now the same area has been witnessing both the communities joining hands to spearhead the farmers’ agitation and force the government to accede to the farmers’ demands.
But more important than this has been the intervention of the farmers in the politics of the country. There is a general perception that farmers’ do not much stake in the politics or governance. They are also much concerned of how their elected representatives act or behave. This averseness of theirs has been primarily responsible for their neglected by the rulers and government. Though orgnisationsof rich farmers have been there, like Shetkar Sanghthana of Sharad Joshi, they were more concerned of the economic gains of this section of farmers.
This is for the first time in the history of the Independent India that farmers’ organisations have been talking of all section of the farmers, whether they are middle or poor peasants or agricultural labourers. Narendra Modi or Mohan Bhagwat at no stage could imagine that the farmers organisations will speak in one tone. This was the reason that they preferred to ignore them while framing the three laws. They also nursed the view that the agitation will die down. But much to the discomfiture of Modi and Bhagwat the farmers made a strategic change in their tracks and they started actively involving in the political system of the country.
It is not yet clear what will emerge out of the elections being held in five states, but one thing is certain that it has put the BJP on defensive. The farmers’ movement has succeeded in making the rural voters think of their future. Suddenly a brake has been applied on breaking and demeaning the democratic institutions. After Modi’s government came to power in 2014, a sustained campaign was launched to weaken the democratic institutions and polity. The liberal intellectuals who held that the democratic institutions were strong enough to counter any assault and no one can try to violate them were proved wrong.
Modi who has launched the mission to curb the civil liberties and the democratic rights of the people was forced to maintain restrain. With the farmer leaders moving across the country the autocratic Modi government had to retreat. But it cannot wait for long. It would strive to accomplish its task. The stakes of the corporate sector, capitalists and the rightist forces are so acute that it has to weaken the farmers’ movement.
Its vilification campaign against the movement, feeding wrong information that the farmers were deserting the dharna places and new forces were unwilling to join the agitation has been the part of this design. It was on January 23 this year Modi cautioned; “The democratic process cannot be allowed to be subverted through unlawful protests”. Apparently Modi has used this phrase coinciding with storming of the US Capitol by Donald Trump’s supporters, in true sense it was the farmers’ protest that was at his target. They had threatened to carry out a peaceful tractor march in Delhi on the nation’s Republic Day if their demands were not conceded by then. Modi ought to reply; What is a “lawful” protest? It is a widely known fact that if elected institutions do not function people ought to protest?
For subverting the farmers’ movement the Modi government has even been ruthlessly using the parliamentary panels. The Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution has recommended that the government “implement the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, in letter and spirit, and without… hindrances so that the farmers and other stakeholders of farming sector in this country receive the benefits intended under the said Act”. A day later, the Congress and Trinamul Congress, which has the chairmanship of the committee, said the report was a misrepresentation and evidence of the BJP’s “dirty tricks department in action ”.
Flagging the letter, senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh said: “MPs of the Congress party DID NOT ask for implementation of the Essential Commodities Act. The standing committee report is a misrepresentation!” Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien responded: “This is the BJP’s cheap ‘n dirty tricks department in action. Con job was done when Chairman of #Parliament Committee was not at meeting. @aitc position on #FarmLaws and Essential Commodities Act well documented. Withdraw draconian laws #FarmersProtest.”
Some liberal economists and experts have been arguing that Indian agriculture desperately needs reforms. But none can deny that raising this argument at this point is purely aimed at confusing the scenario. It will only help the government fresh vilification and strengthening the anti-farmers’ forces. Some of these people even argue that Green Revolution was a step towards reforms. Any reforms must focus on land reforms not simply increasing the productivity of grains. It is also said that the green revolution transition was driven by public investment in irrigation and market infrastructure. Now the question arises why that flow did not acquire an institutional character in later years? Why the farmers’ still today have to fight for minimum support price? Indian agriculture is facing the capitalist mode of crisis and the arguments for reforms owe their existence to it. For the first time this movement has even questioned the relevance of any such model of reforms. (IPA Service)