By Sushil Kutty
India’s farmers are not in the mood to fold up their more than nine month agitation, which has acquired a larger purpose – the ouster of Narendra Modi from ‘Dilli’s gaddi’. Enough of the cat-footing, and the street skirmishes, the time’s now come to galvanise the Opposition with more such ‘kisan mahapanchayats’ across the country. The September 5 Muzaffarnagar ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ was followed by one in Karnal, Haryana, on September 7.
That the Centre and the BJP-ruled states are rattled can be gauged from the fact that Karnal looked like a garrison town on September 7, with streets and roads barricaded, and the police at every nook and corner. The administration went to the extent of shutting down Internet services in not just Karnal but also in the neighbouring Kaithal and Jind.
The farmers, who gathered at the Karnall anaj mandi, have made several demands of the state government including action against policemen who had lathi-charged farmers a few days ago, injuring several farmers. One farmer had died allegedly from injuries sustained to the head. Karnal is Chief Minister Manoharlal Khattar’s assembly constituency.
With the Muzaffarnagar show of strength rated a grand victory, the bugle has been sounded on the BJP in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. And following the “runaway success” of the ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ opposition political parties of Uttar Pradesh have upped the ante against Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his government. Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav said the “success of the ‘kisan mahapanchayat” has the BJP “running helter-skelter” in Uttar Pradesh, and that it has “birthed a people’s revolution”.
The Muzaffarnagar ‘kisan mahapanchayat’, organised by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, had indeed rattled the Yogi and Modi governments. A request of the Rashtriya Lok Dal to allow the organizers to airdrop flower petals on the farmers was denied and there were allegations that trains bringing farmers to Muzaffarnagar were “halted midway” for no reason at all.
Over 300 farmer unions from 15 states participated. The majority were from UP, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra and Karnataka. The ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ also caught the attention of BJP politicians. Varun Gandhi extended support to the farmers and urged the Modi Government to talk to the farmers.
Varun’s Congress cousin Rahul Gandhi insisted Prime Minister Narendra Modi must withdraw the “unjust laws”. Congress spokesperson Supriye Srinate said “when the time comes all the opposition parties will stand with the farmers”.the farmers announced a ‘Bharat Bandh’ will be observed on September 27.
The agitating farmers are signaling a fight to the finish. Nothing that the Modi Government does will take the edge off the ‘kisan andolan’. The Modi Government and the BJP are rattled. BJP spokespersons on September 6 picked on ‘Allah hu Akbar’ to drive a wedge between Hindu and Muslim, hoping that the polarization will extend to the entire population.
The Muzaffarnagar ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ had witnessed cries of ‘Allah hu Akbar’ and ‘Har Har Mahadev’. Kisan leader Rakesh Tikait said ‘Allah hu Akbar’ and ‘Har Har Mahadev’ indicated a confluence, and not a division. But the one thought uniting the hundreds of thousands of farmers gathered in Muzaffarnagar was that the saffron-clad Yogi Adityanath should not get another chance to rule Uttar Pradesh.
Taking the stage, Rakesh Tikait doubled down on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath, and the three “dark” farm laws. So much so, minister in the Modi government and Muzaffarnagar MP Sanjeev Baliyan voiced a tenuous “welcome” to Tikait to “come and join politics”. The BJP and those championing the three farm laws have been accusing Tikait of carrying on the protests solely for the purpose of contesting elections, reminding Tikait of previous forays and the defeats.
The important thing is, the farmers’ protests had come to an inflexion point during the run-up to the West Bengal elections, and the TMC victory. Now, after the Muzaffarnagar ‘kisan mahapanchayat’, there’s growing tension in the BJP as the Uttar Pradesh elections get closer. Soon wary BJP leaders might question the leadership of Modi and Yogi. Fear of losing elections is the ultimate worst a politician can be subjected to.
The Muzaffarnagar ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ has allowed the farmers to set their agenda for the next three years. The September 27 ‘Bharat Bandh” will be followed by ‘kisan mahapanchayats’ across India, not just against the three farm laws but also against price rise and the breakdown of law & order. The goal is to oust Yogi Adityanath in 2022, and Narendra Modi in 2024. (IPA Service)