Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown his nervousness in announcing the Bharat Ratna awards in a haste to two former Prime Ministers Choudhury Charan Singh and P V Narasimha Rao While choosing Charan Singh from western Uttar Pradesh, a Jat dominated region, Modi showered praise; “He dedicated his life to the rights and welfare of farmers. His dedication to our farmer brothers and sisters and his commitment to democracy during the Emergency are an inspiration to the entire nation.”
His choosing Rao while is a move to play with the “Telugu Son” sentiment, it also aims at embarrassing Sonia Gandhi, who it is alleged did not respect him. His sudden realisation that Dr M S Swaminathan deserves to be conferred with the honour is really intriguing. If Modi really realised and appreciated his contributions to agriculture and farmers’ welfare, Modi should have implemented his recommendations instead of forcing the farmers to resort to dharna for its execution.
Honouring these personalities has undoubtedly been not a costly bargain for Modi. If the political grapevines are to be believed, Haran Singh’s grandson Jayant has committed his support to Modi in lieu of the honour to his grandfather. Just after announcement, Jayant had responded over X saying “You have won (my) heart” and praised Modi. Jayant’s appreciation of Modi’s overture makes it abundantly clear that either he is a political naïve person or is not aware of the insult inflicted upon Charan Singh by the RSS and Jana Sangh leaders in 1980.
Jai Prakash Narayan was inclined to install Choudhury as the prime minister. But the RSS and Jana Sangh leaders objected to it. They even threatened to pull out of Janata Party in case JP insisted. Realising that Janata Party was on the verge of collapse, Charan Singh showing his nobility prevailed upon JP not to press his name. Truly speaking, even before the electoral process had started name of Charan Singh in the political circle for the task, Jana Sangh and RSS leaders had in fact betrayed him.
Jat and farmers leaders like Harpal Singh and Rakesh Tikait do not share Jayant’s views. Modi honouring Charan Singh and Swaminathan underlines that in order to salvage the electoral prospect ,he has resorted to tactics of emotional blackmailing. While through Singh he intends to reach out to the Jats, by conferring this honour on Swaminathan he desires to reassure the farmers of his pious intentions and thus win the over their support just ahead of the election.
His both moves ostensibly underscore his lack of confidence He had performed consecration of Ram temple with the impermeable care, spending crores of fund, to arouse the religious passion of Hindus and motivate them to vote for him. His latest move makes it explicit that the temple splurge is not enough. RSS and BJP are in search of new mechanism to woo the voters. In the first phase he tried to woo the Dalits and EBCs and also assuage the feelings of his party cadres, in the second phase he wants to improve his relations with the Jats.
The Ayodhya religious ritual primarily aimed the Jats, as the Muslims of western Uttar Pradesh have turned hostile to BJP and Modi. The 2013 communal riot in which nearly 70 of Muslims were killed and around 40,000 got displaced had helped the BJP to win Lok Sabha election in the 2019 from the region.
But the yearlong farmers’ Satyagrah in 2020-21 succeeded in bringing Muslims and Hindus closer forgetting the past rancour. This has proved to be a major threat for saffron ecosystem. RSS and BJP have still been planning to ignite the communal hatred in the region. On August 28, 2023, union minister Sanjeev Balyan, who was one of the prime accused in 2013 case, had visited Kawal village in Muzaffarnagar to participate in religious rituals marking the tenth death anniversary of the two Hindu Jat youth who were killed in the riot in September 2013. But the Jats did not respond his moves.
What entailed a strong bond between Muslim and Jats was the death of 700 odd farmers. After the dharna , both Jats and Muslims are strongly aligned to Congress. This has actually unnerved Modi and RSS. The Kisan Satyagrah underlined breaking of the trust promised by the government and party committed to welfare of the farmers.
The region has 29 Lok Sabha seats, with a historically significant population of Jats, Gurjars and Muslims. The Braj region, which is part of Western Uttar Pradesh, is also significant for the Hindus as it is believed to be the location of Lord Krishna’s early life. In the Rohilkhand region, the percentage of Muslim population underscores their political significance and especially for political parties like Samajwadi Party, BSP and the Congress.
Senior farmer leader Abhimanyu Kohat holds that conferring of Bharat Ratna on Choudhury Charan Singh certainly has emotional importance for his family members, but it is not going to move the Jats and farmers. They feel betrayed by Modi. He had promised to make the Minimum Support Price a statutory commitment. But he retreated. Wheat which is being sold at Rs 4200 per quintal but the MSP is Rs 2275. The farmers have virtually been losing Rs 2000 per quintal. The government has increased the MSP of wheat by Rs 150 to Rs 2,275 per quintal for the 2024-25 marketing season, the highest increase since 2014
The government has even promised to give amnesty to farmers for the loss they incurred. But it too has been denied. UPA government of Dr Manmohan Singh had increased the MSP four times. In order to encourage agriculture sector output, the UPA government had on several times increased Minimum Support Price for key farm commodities, like wheat, paddy and sugarcane. But after coming to power Modi government scrapped the four times increase. He also banned wheat exports with immediate effect as part of measures to control rising domestic prices, according to official notification.
Farmers’ are angry with Modi government for not waiving their loss of some Rs 10 lakh crores, while he has waived the loans worth Rs 14600 lakh crores of the big business houses and corporate sector. With agricultural subsidies being reduced and cost of farm inputs getting increased farming has become less profitable for an average farmer.
According to Kisan Mazdoor Morcha convenor Sarvan Singh Pandher, more farmers and workers organisations had joined the Morcha. A coordination committee of leaders from various states has been formed, in which five members have been taken from Tamil Nadu, three from Punjab, two from Kerala, and one each from Haryana, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Puducherry.
The RLD had contested the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in 2022 in alliance with the SP and won eight seats. Jat leaders are sceptical whether his allying with Modi will enable him win more seats. Jats treat the saffron brigade as their enemy and it is not sure how far Modi’s overture will improve the situation. (IPA Service)