By Krishna Jha
It is the moment when you celebrate democracy, yet realise that it is also out of bounds. Prime minister has stepped back on three agrarian laws that were to be among the darkest in the annals of history. The ruling forces have realised that to maintain the semblance of democracy, there is the need for softening the brutal steps. The indifference towards the agitating masses, the ordeals they had gone through, in freezing winter, in scorching summer, under the open sky, living with newly born and the old, was painful, since it came from those whom people had opted for to deliver solace and also rule. They were not only ignored, but also horrified, since it was also a reminder of such horrors that people had gone through in the past, in Germany, in Italy.
The step was made to appear like a retreat, to assuage the hurt that farmers were undergoing on the borders of the capital, to reign in their blazing spirit with a gloved hand, shoving the injustices committed against them under the carpet. In fact, the saffron rulers are trying to win them back to strengthen their support in the forthcoming polls in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttarakhand. The injustices committed against the people, especially the agrarian masses were colossal, and yet the realisation has dawned that with sheer force, they cannot be won back. The negativity they have earned on the ground has left them vulnerable in the face of democratic norms. There it was the victory of the farmers’ agitation, forcing the rulers to bite dust, nothing less. It was not easy.
There were contributing factors to help. Asking for apology, after committing the atrocities, all fresh and livid, was not a cake walk. But they know the price for it would be wrenched back, but now it was the turn of softness. They have realised that no natural extremities could bend them. But then there were cracks in the handling of political issues also, like misplaced high hopes to win the Bengal elections. They were shown their place in no unclear terms. Saffron had to face the hard blow, and realised that the road ended there, thus far and no further! It was also a message to the agitating masses that their struggle was having an impact all over the country. It was soon on the surface.
There was the reckless handling of the brutal killings in Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh, the stage where the people’s response alone was decisive, and it went against the saffron forces that were grossly unfair in handling the complications. There were junior Minister for Home at the Centre, Ajay Mishra, and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath to do everything to help speed up the decline of popular support as if the imposing of three dark laws was not enough. To come out of the rut thus created, it had to be a retreat, though not a defeat. And, it was definitely a victory for the struggling farmers.
People are not unaware of the strength of refusal. They had once rejected the venture of the saffron government to get clearance for its land acquisition bill. When defeated, the prime minister had to surrender it to the states to formulate their own laws on land acquisition. The failures have taught him how to compromise without confessing mistakes in the content.
While repealing the three land laws, he did not explain any fault line in the laws themselves, for him it was his own inability to explain the laws adequately. He merely failed to explain, and as a result, people could not get convinced, he said. But he casually evaded the flaw in the content. One kisan leader of Samyukta Morcha had once said that Narendra Modi speaks in a language that is dipped in honey, though without mentioning any real welfare measure. The kisan leader explained that prime minister was free to be extremely rude, only he must deliver. He must care for his people who are at starvation level. He is leading one of the world’s largest democracy and it is people who are at the centre in such a system. In a situation of unmet demands, while facing deprivation, the masses have every right to resent, protest and demand. It is true that people are represented in the governance, and in turn, get justice and also succour, and yet, they have the right to flood the streets of their own country, and ask for what they need, since there have been demands unmet for decades. The repeal of the agrarian laws is in fact meant to buy time. The state elections are at the door step, and appeasement is the prime need for those in government. Same is true about labour laws too. The implementation of the amended labour laws is also delayed for the same reason. It is again an example how retreat helps to win. The system we live in today is not necessarily ethically correct, nor constitutionally sound. The ultimate plank on which governance is to be based is the cause of humanity, and it has been there that failure has built its nest.
Repeal of the farm laws stands as means to soften the blow, till elections, and cannot be stamped as defeat. There is still time for that. (IPA Service)