By Sushil Kutty
India’s ‘praja’ is apportioned in two camps, both hating the guts of the other. There’s the ‘left’, and there’s the ‘right’ with the Congress supporters shifting toward the left from the no longer coveted centre. In the last 11 months, however, there is a third camp to deal with, account for – that of the farmers.
Or, the “so-called farmers”, as some are prone to call Rakesh Tikait and his band of lumbering kisan. The other day the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, apex body of the protesting farmers, suspended “top member” Yogendra Yadav for a month. The intellectual in the midst of the rustic had riled the SKM by making an “uncalled for visit” to the home of one of the three BJP workers lynched after the “minister’s Jeep” crushed four kisans under its four wheels.
Yadav went to commiserate with a lynching victim’s family, who bared their grief to him. At any other time there wouldn’t have been any objection. India has a tradition of respecting the dead and commiserating with the families of the dead. This applied even to Pak Army soldiers killed in action on the hilltops of Kargil. And here, Yogendra Yadav was punished for saying “sorry” to the family of a political adversary killed brutally.
In a way, the farmers who took umbrage weren’t wrong. All is fair in love and war and taking action against a “soldier” who wanders into the rival camp to lend a shoulder to the enemy’s family is beyond redemption. If in the Army, Yogendra Yadav would have been court-martialled regardless of rank and handed over to the custody of the MP – military police. He’s lucky this didn’t cross Rakesh Tikait’s sharp mind!
Don’t forget Tikait has top-level contacts in the Uttar Pradesh Police. Now, the rank and file of the farmers’ unions are a divided lot. One section is questioning the SKM’s 7-member top committee for taking action against Yogendra Yadav. If Yadav could be acted upon, why was Rakesh Tikait let go after he was photographed sitting with the UP Police top brass? Was Tikait’s crime not “crime” while Yadav’s “crime” is crime?
The 7-member committee has been reduced to 6-member because Yadav was one of the seven! Seems, after Yadav returned from Shubam Mishra’s grieving home, he tweeted a tweet that did not go down well with the SKM top echelon, which wanted Yadav to apologise for the tweet and also for making the “visit”. Yadav apologized for the tweet but refused to apologize for the ‘visit’.
Now there is talk that the SKM’s top panel is often times overawed and outshouted by a 32-member committee. There is also the grouse that while Punjab’s farmers are divided under “several heads”, Uttar Pradesh has only one kisan leader going by the name of Rakesh Tikait, and Tikat is hard to pin down because “Tikait talks in circles” and is answerable to none.
Also that Yogendra Yadav is but a shadow in Tikait’s brute presence. Not even Yadav’s “intellect” can cut through Tikait’s beef. That is why Yadav’s “intellectual supporters” are not happy with the direction the “farmers’ protests” is taking. While a number of them would have liked it if after Lakhimpur-Kheri, the farmers had done a Gandhi-like “Chauri Chaura”, there are others who say that the farmers’ agitation leadership has become a “dictatorship”.
“What is the difference between the Modi regime and the farmers’ protests?” they ask. The “intellectuals”, who have been wholeheartedly supporting the farmers’ protests through all these “11 months”, aren’t happy with the “action ka reaction” turn the agitation has taken. They want to the SKM to “unsuspend” Yogendra Yadav and declare that the SKM stood with Yogendra Yadav in commiserating with the families of all the eight men killed in Lakhimpur-Kheri.
They emphasize that the farmers’ protests cannot lose its moral compass, and kisan leaders like Rakesh Tikait cannot run away with the protests because they harbour political ambitions. Yogendra Yadav, they say, lends “intellectual heft” to the agitation and that is the “credibility factor” which holds upright the disparate elements that make up the protests.
The 7-member apex SKM committee had Jagjit Dhaliwal, Dr. Darshan Pal, Hananmollah, Balbir Singh Rajewal, Ashok Dhawale, Yogendra Yadav, Gurnam Singh Chanduni, Shiv Kumar Kaka. Colin Gonsalves, Dushyant Dave, Prashant Bhushan and HS Phulka are its legal advisors. Now, Yogendra Yadav is out on his rump because the majority in the top body disapproved of his “grandstanding” gesture. (IPA Service)