Illustration by Soham Sen | ThePrint
Illustration by Soham Sen | ThePrint
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Protests over the three farm reform laws are well into the third month now. There are six key facts, or facts as we see them, that we can list here:

1. The farm laws, by and large, are good for the farmers and India. At various points of time, most major political parties and leaders have wanted these changes. However, many of you might still disagree. But then, this is an opinion piece. I explained it in detail in this, Episode 571 of #CutTheClutter.

2. Whether the laws are good or bad for the farmer no longer matters. In a democracy, all that matters is what people affected by a policy change believe — in this case, the farmers of the northern states. Facts don’t matter if you’ve failed to convince them.

3. The Modi government is right when it says this is no longer about the farm laws. Because nobody is talking about MSP, subsidies, mandis and so on. Then what’s it about?

4. The short answer is, it is about politics. And why not? There is no democracy without politics. When the UPA was in power, the BJP opposed all its good ideas, from the India-US nuclear deal to FDI in insurance and pension. Now it’s implementing the same policies at the rate of, say, 6X.

5. As far as the farm laws are concerned, the Modi government has already lost the battle. Again, you can disagree. But this is my opinion. And I will make my case.

6. Finally, the Modi government has two choices. It can let it fester, expand into a larger political war. Or it can cut its losses and, as the Americans say, get off the kerb.


Also read: Time for Modi to play the elder statesman and repeal the farm laws


Here is the evidence that lets us say that the Modi government has lost the battle for these farm laws. First of all, there is the unilateral offer of an 18-month deferral to implementing the laws. Count 18 months from now, you will be left with only another 18 before the 2024 general elections.

You see even a Modi-Shah BJP is unlikely to risk reopening this front at that point. In fact, the bellwether heartland state elections, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, will be exactly 12 months away. Two of them have strong Congress incumbents and in the third, the BJP has bought and stolen power. Nobody’s risking losing these to make their point over farm reforms. These laws, then, are as bad as dead in the water.

Again, unilaterally, the government has already made a commitment of continuing with Minimum Support Price (MSP), although there is nothing in the laws saying it will be taken away. With so much already given away, the battle over the farm laws is lost.

The Modi government’s challenge now is to buy normalcy without making it look like a defeat. We know that it got away with one such, with the new land acquisition law. But that issue was still confined to Parliament. This is on the streets, highway choke-points, and in the expanse of wheat and paddy all around Delhi. This can spread. If the government retreats in surrender, this issue may close, but politics will rage. And why not? What is democracy but competitive politics, brutal, fair and fun? The next targets will then be other reform measures, from the new labour laws to the public listing of LIC.

What are the errors, or blunders, that brought India’s most powerful government in 35 years here? I shall list five:

1. Bringing in these laws through the ordinance route was a blunder. I speak from 20/20 hindsight, but then I am a commentator, not a political leader. To usher in the promise of sweeping change affecting the lives of more than half a billion people, the correct way would have been to market the ideas first. We don’t know if Narendra Modi now regrets not having prepared the ground for it. But the fact is, people at the mass level would be suspicious of such change through ordinances. Especially if you aren’t talking to them.

2. The manner in which the laws were pushed through Rajya Sabha added to these suspicions. This needed better parliamentary craft than the blunt use of vocal chords. This helped fan the fire, or spread the ‘hawa’ that something terrible was being forced down the surplus-producing farmers’ throats.

3. The party was riding far too high on its majority to care about allies and friends. If it had taken them along respectfully, the passage through Rajya Sabha wouldn’t have been so ungainly. At least the Akalis should never have been lost. But, as we’ve said before, this BJP does not understand Punjab or the Sikhs.

4. It also underestimated the frustration among the Jats of Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, disempowered by the Modi-Shah politics. The senior-most Jat leaders in the Modi council of ministers are both inconsequential ministers of state. One is from distant Barmer in Rajasthan. The most visible of them, Sanjeev Balyan, won from Muzaffarnagar, where the big pro-Tikait mahapanchayat was held. In Haryana, the BJP has no Jat who counts. On the contrary, it found the marginalisation of Jat power as its big achievement. It refused to learn even from statewide, violent Jat agitations for reservations. The anger then was rooted in political marginalisation, as it is now. Ask why the BJP’s Jat ally Dushyant Chautala, or any of its Jat MPs/MLAs in UP, especially Balyan, are not on the ground, marketing these reforms? They wouldn’t dare.

5. The BJP conceded too much, too soon, unilaterally in the negotiations. It doesn’t have much more to give now. And the farm leaders have conceded nothing.


Also read: 7 reasons why Modi govt is in retreat on farm reform laws


In conclusion, where does the Modi government go from here? One approach could be to tire the farmers out. On all evidence, that is not about to happen. Rabi harvest in April is still nearly 75 days away, and with much work done by mechanical harvesters and migrant workers, families would be quite capable of keeping the pickets full.

The next expectation would be that the Jats would ultimately make a deal. This is plausible. Note the key difference between Singhu and Ghazipur. In the first, no politician can even go for a selfie. Ask Ravneet Singh Bittu of the Congress, who was turned out unceremoniously. But everybody can go to Ghazipur and be photographed hugging Tikait. The Congress, Left, RLD, RJD, AAP, all of them. Even Sukhbir Singh Badal comes to Ghazipur, instead of Singhu to meet his fellow Sikhs from Punjab. Wherever there is politics and politicians, conflict resolution is possible. But what happens if this becomes a reality?

This will leave India and the Modi government with the most dangerous outcome of all. It will corner the Sikhs of Punjab. Already, the lousy barricading visuals and government’s prickly response to something as trivial as some celebrity tweets is threatening to redefine the issue from farm laws to national unity. The Modi government will err gravely if it changes the headline from farm protests to Sikh separatism.

This crisis requires political sophistication and governance skills. This BJP has neither. It has, instead, political skills and governance by clout, riding an all-conquering election-winning machine. It is the party’s inability to accept the realities of Indian politics and appreciate the limitations of a parliamentary majority that brought it here.

Does it have the smarts and sagacity to negotiate its way out of it? We can’t say. But we hope it does. Because the last thing India needs is to start another war for national unity. You would be nuts to reopen an issue in Punjab we all closed and buried by 1993.


Also read: Teflon Modi does not have one Achilles heel, but two


 

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117 Comments Share Your Views

117 COMMENTS

  1. I have stated many times Modi and the BJP know how to win elections but do not know how to govern! They do not know how to run an economy or communicate well with others. They use the blunt force of police, tax man or their favorite foreigners are the enemy!
    The BJP and Modi only know division and bigotry and as long as they are in power India will continue to decline!

    • Decline and fragmentation are what will happen when you are brought up in an organisation where all methods are fair and passed off as nationalism and in the national interest – murder Gandhi, organise pogroms, use IT cell to spread fake messages, encourage lynch mobs, arrest critics and journalists and students, and dub them as anti-nationals; then EVM tampering and demonetisation scams will look ordinary. Violence against citizens is passed off as necessary for the national interest. And if citizens protest, more violence will be needed to preserve the nation from breakdown; many will go along with this logic.

      It has been seen before. It failed everywhere.

  2. Hilarious, latest news is there is no Sikh bogey. But there is a foreign bogey for which Modi has coined an acronym, FDI (= foreign destructive ideology) !

    Since there is no foreign direct investment and a 5 trillion economy on the horizon, a foreign bogey is apt !

    Mani Shankar Aiyar was right that Modi has a chai wallah’s brain in a PM’s suit and now a Tagore beard !

  3. what happens when you can no longer bullshit, browbeat, bulldoze or buy out people? well, you can always try out honesty, sincerity and truth. they just might turn the trick.

  4. the movement was not political till january 26th, till the time it was sabotaged by the stooges of the current dispensation. the agitating farmers had managed to keep politics and politicians of all hues at bay since the time the protests started after the ordinances were promulgated. no politician was even allowed to be present on the farmers’ stage, let alone speak. after january 26 every political party and two-bit politician jumped on the bandwagon to take advantage of the situation which had put the government on the backfoot. how could those who would not hesitate deriving political capital even from the crowd collected by a ‘madari’ performing in a street not be tempted to suck on the juicy fruit that fell in their laps?

  5. what about the Khalistani flag you Shekar Gupta. We know you have your personal agenda. But that should not be at the cost of our nation. What is your problem with the farm laws. The PM is repeatedly asking which clause of the new laws is cause of concern. How long you will indulge in rumour mongering. Moreover
    Who are these farmers who are spending so much everyday to participate in rallies spending so much diesel and money on food? may be the new farm laws are meant for small and medium farmers. not the rich tractor roaming farmers.
    You always have a anti BJP stand. Why dont you give issue based support.

  6. Shekhar Gupta is using false comparisons. He is not talking about specific issues that Punjab legislature law jails the farmer for not fulfilling the contract. However Central law is much more lenient.
    Many journalists in 2012 believed that Modi cannot become PM. Many super secular journalists are busy in making caste equations.
    Off course the Khalistani flag was seen at Red Fort but he wish to deny that.

  7. Isn’t the opposition equally responsible for maintaining national unity and integrity? I agree that opposition can play politics but not at the cost of national unity. There is always a red line and I hope our opposition can understand it.

  8. I think all those who decided to support The Print financially die its claim of “neutral journalism”, should see the reality of how antiHindu and anti BJP Shekhar Gupta is, after this article.
    It’s pure vitriolic trying to create a false narrative, when the so called “Farmers protest” is fast loosing momentum, Government is gaining support of real farmers in all other states except Punjab/ Haryana, and the Government has clearly won this round by showing the reality of this middlemen protest to thd entire nation.
    He is playing by the ” toolkit” , and that he had to come out with such a farcical article putting his image at stake, tells you something about how deep this antiIndia network is. May be he is getting enough from such forces, and doesn’t need the support of neutral readers anymore.

  9. Shekhar Gupta stretegy : LIE nd propogate falsehoods on good laws and then say they cannot be implemented because some people believe the falsehoods.

  10. Every sensitive bill or issues are political used by BJP government led by Modi. The farm law also fall under this category. After getting the bill passed by voice vote. A divide got created and there after BJP went on to organise out reach campaign. Any beneficial law, if the Govt was serious, they would first reach out and not the other way. When Dr Singh wanted to sign Indo US Nuclear deal , he reached out first and when the then opposition party opposed, he took the parliament to endorse.

  11. According to SG – in short the laws are great but Jat and Sikh politics is responsible for the protests. And the government is politically unable to “assure” or “convince” them!

  12. I absolutely agree with the caption of this article. Two Gujaratis created modern India – – Gandhi and Patel, and two Gujaratis are destroying modern India – – Modi and Shah.
    With great difficulty India got rid of the Khalistan obsession. Modi-Shah are stoking those fires again. We must not forget that today’s Sikh children are watching their elders suffer in these protests. If they are defeated, then these children will grow up with Khalistan etched on their mind. The separatists are already waiting for an opportunity, and if the mood of the masses swings in that direction, who will be able to thwart their efforts?
    Amit Shah once derogatorily called Gandhi a “chatur bania”. These two, Modi-Shah themselves are “chatur Gujjus”. They have already started planning for the retreat of these laws. It is only a matter of time now. Why do I say that? You think implementation of 4G in J&K in last two days was a “coincidence”? No! It was a carrot to the Kashmiris so they do not start agitating about 370 as soon as Modi-Shah repeal the farm laws.

  13. BJP needs introspection now. They have developed a 40% plus formula largely around polarization. It helps them to win but it also alienates another 20-30%. In a Democracy, Governance depends on electoral math but development depends on consensus. BJP’s best hope is to cut a deal with Rakesh Tikait. Both Rajanath Singh and Yogi are known to have good equations with him. UP Thakurs who are the primary landowning community in UP is BJP’s biggest vote bank. They are more numerous than Jats. Now that he has had his moment under the sun, Tikait has the opportunity to replace the fading Choudharys (RLD). Tikait also knows about his limited pull. He is not a Haryanvi Jat. He is from UP. Jats make up only 2% in UP. It is not difficult to arrange crowds in UP because that 2% is a fraction of 20 crores. Both can come to a mutually beneficial arrangement and end the impasse. BJP will have to make some sacrifices here. For starters, they can forget about all India implementation. They’ll have to leave the reforms to the state to implement them. However, they’ll have to prepare support. Ending their war with Thackereys would be a good place to start. Maha needs these reforms. Sharad Pawar knows it too. In MP, BJP can count on the clout of Shivraj to gain support. Gujarat is also not a problem. Karnataka might be trickier but these days JDS is flirting with the BJP. In UP, Yogi will have to hold the fort. Since the largest landowning community are the Thakurs, he may not encounter any problems. Haryana BJP will have to withhold the reforms and work on cultivating Jat leadership.

  14. Whether Punjab wants to sink further in the morass of declining agricultural productivity or regain the prosperity of the green revolution years — it has to decide. Not everyone can go to KANADA! An average Haryanvi earns one and half times more according to a report in the Economic Times.

    Punjab is already becoming a desert. Continuous paddy cultivation will destroy the water table forever.

    As if all this was not enough, it has become a GAANJA, HEROIN and CHARAS capital of India.

    Are the agitating farmers on a high? Yes let’s discuss farm laws — but first withdraw the laws! Hope they come out of their narcotic stupor very soon. It will be good for them and the country.

    But sadly it seems the rich farmers want to be beholden to the ARHATIYAS forever. Do these middlemen also supply a joint too as part of their job profile?

  15. All those abusing the Shekha gupta, please refrain. He is one of the few credible journalist in India and this start up is the most impartial publication I have seen. He says his opinion and scrupulously sticks to the issue or topic at hand and not who is promulgating it.

    • There is not one journalist in India, at least famous ones, who have any credibility as on date. Be it SG, PBM, Arnab, Barkha or any one else.
      As for this article, SG is not looking beyond Punjab, Haryana and Western UP.

    • SG often behaves as a CHAMELEON changes his color. At this moment he is under pressure from his crooked Modi hater colleagues to take anti Modi stance.

    • Shekhar Gupta is credible journalist? Good joke.
      The publication is not neutral in fact the so called farm protest got exposed.

  16. In this case why shall there not be MSP for every kind of grain and vegetables ? Why are the agitating farmers special in that way?

    • You are correct. Try having a floor price for major produces below which contracts (as per the new law) should not be allowed. This would help in eliminating the distress sale or even throwing if veggies on roads one year and the prices sky rocketing the next year

  17. That is for Punjab to decide, with rising poverty what future is wants for itself. Khalistanis won’t be spared. Punjab’s future is in its hand.

    • At the moment they are holding hostage the future of the country. The other headache is Rakesh Tikait. You can always count on Hindus to produce one Jauchand. The reforms are as good as gone. The BJP is simply searching for a face-saver.

  18. Ah, now that explains the reason why we have the Print. The “toolkit”, stupid! Shekhar Gupta it appears is following the earlier classic –and more deadly — version (version xxx.01).

    Annadatas in their TRACTOR TERROR outing on Republic Day were following a crude version of toolkit I think.

  19. Indian laws are very old and it needs to be modernised . But vested interests will not allow this to happen. As usual, poor farmers will suffer and rich farmers, with no income tax, will get richer.

  20. If right wing keyboard warriors are not reigned in pronto from calling patriotic Punjabi farmers as “Khalistanis” or “terrorists”, Modi will have even larger problems than farmer protests. Already his carefully constructed facade of a modern reformer PM of India is falling apart in the western press. If western politicians also start feeling that way, Ambani and Adani’s millions will not suffice to hold the economy afloat once foreign investors take their money and run. If Modi is not careful, he might just find his name in a future book by Ramchandra Guha called “breakers of modern India.” Divide and rule policy and turning Indians against Indians needs to be given up here and now. If Modi is unwilling to see sense, the RSS should take steps to make Modi the president (like Pranab Mukherjee) and appoint Rajnath Singh or Nitin Gadkari as the PM to calm the waters before the right wing completely loses legitimacy in rural India.

    • Everything you said is correct – except the divide and rule comes from the RSS. The BJP reports to this unelected body. They thrive on communal polarisation, building an oligarchy financed by Adani and Ambani, and BJP is just their front.

      As for the west, they gave Modi the benefit of the doubt in 2014. After demonetisation, they had doubts. They might have still accepted Modi’s India and put human rights on the back burner as they have done in China, but with no worthwhile economy under Modi, they will consign India to the ‘ignore’ category. And of course if India commits human rights violations, it will go more against India than China as all along it was considered a liberal, tolerant democracy.

    • Regarding the incessant messaging from BJP supporters or their so-called IT cell on the internet and social media…

      Does the IT cell have an agenda of its own and therefore does their social media messaging happen without directions from the very top leaders of their party?

      OR does the IT cell always do their messaging based on directions from the very top leaders of their party?

      I have always wondered about this.

      If it is the latter them their topmost leaders surely have the control and can really stop such media messaging if they wish to.

  21. One can see that Modi has defied all the odds and none of media’s foresights (better known as wishes) have come true. From the slogans against demonetization, singing with Rahul about the discrepancies in the Rafael deal to imagining that CAA deal will make a huge dent in Modi’s popularity none of the media’s so called predictions have materialized. And to say that pointing out at the khalistan issue will be the death nail for this country’s unity, how do you explain Punjab choosing congress despite a congress PM attacking the holiest symbol of sikhism and the bloody riots against Sikhs by the congress supporters? Punjab’s identity is safe with India and the people of Punjab know it. Modi will find a solution at the right time, he can read the sentiments better than media for sure.

  22. Sir, when ‘farmers’ are asked what are their grievances exactly they can not come up with anything. Even in Supreme Court their lawyer decided to remain absent than present their argument against the laws. When invited by government only argument they are making is repeal the law without giving any solid justification. All the opposition political parties were either walking out or dancing in RS table when the bill was being discussed in parliament. Sharad Pawar did not discuss it in parliament, Gandhi family went abroad during the time. And now they want to support ‘farmers’. This is irresponsible and general public takes cognizance of it but it will not come out in open. When the election happens we know what to do.

  23. The so-called farmers agitation is actaully a political battle being fought in proxy by the erst-while ruling dynasty and some of the regional ex-rulers of some of the states of north India . They are ably assisted by a group of leftist journalists who have become orphan–like with the demise of corrupt congress government and who were feeling marginalized and ejected from inner chambers of the Palace. The real aim of battle is to destabilize the democratically elected Government of 2019. By prolonging the proxy battle by using the rich peasantry against Modi govt. the opposition parties are have forgotten the rules of military science . 1 No army can win using only mercenary foot solders . 2 The longer any battle runs , the greater are the chances of win of Resisting big power. 3. Prolonged use of mercenaries will be difficult to hide and exposure will tarnish the image of recruiters itself. 4 mercenaries will do every thing to to promote their own personal agenda , will be faithful to exhibit their own agenda, ideology and political/religious philosophy. 5 The mercenaries will not retreat at your asking . Once positioned , they will mostly obey their own group –commander/leaders , not main recruiter /financier.
    Same thing is happening in this agitation. Let us see how long this proxy battle lasts. ( one of the leader of the agitation has said , they will fight till October 2021 or winter 2021. But same need not be taken seriously . Indian state has withstood much bigger and even violent crisis—like Kashmir insurgency, Naga –Mizo insurgency. Punjab s Kahalistan movement, Naxalist movements,
    The ruling dispension will have to select the appropriate tools in different stages of agitation to face this crisis. The agitations of this magnitude start attracting the displeasure of common people due to bankruptcy of underlying political logic , difficulties these bring to day today life and even reducing motivation of its own mercenary foot solders.
    No, Mr. Gupta ji, so far the Government of the day has not lost , is not loosing the plot .

  24. I never expected that you are so cheap.
    You ruined opinion of lakhs of people by simply doing propaganda for Modi.
    Now shame lessly writing against Modi. God will never forgive you.

  25. Isn’t it interesting that in spite of all the good points that the author raises about the farm laws, he has nothing to say to farmers about where they are going wrong? Are they not supposed to act in a responsible way in a responsible democracy?

    If the farmers are worried about some sections of the laws, should these not be examined and possible solutions or suggestions be offered by the experts to all sides?

    Negotiations are always about give and take. While Minister Tomar has been nothing but polite, circumspect and open, the farmers leaders appear to have been shifty, inconsistent and unreliable. Do they not need to show some responsibility in negotiations instead of asking for the wholesale repeal of laws passed by the nations parliament for the whole country, not just for Punjab and Haryana?

    It seems that the author is quite happy treating the farmers like spoilt children who the parents have to obey and forgive unreservedly even at the expense of other children in the family who are working hard to get the most from what life has to offer.

    I hope common sense prevails rather than dirty politics of the worst kind.

  26. It’s become an ego battle from both sides now.

    It will be newsworthy times ahead to cover this battle in the mainstream as well as social media both internally and internationally that is for sure. Maybe longer than Covid!

  27. Shekhar Gupta like other crooks is also contributing his bit to anti Modi political fight. India’s Nationalists are enjoying to fight and defeat these crooks again and again.

    • ak.dev: If you can be blindly pro-pogrom, pro-lynchings, pro-fascist, pro-Hindutva and hence pro-Modi, why can’t Shekar Gupta be anti-pogrom, anti-lynching, anti-Hindutva and hence anti-Modi ?

    • Indian nationalists were needed at the time of the freedom struggle. We know who fought for freedom and who collaborated and wrote apologies. We don’t need nationalists today.

      Why don’t you go to the LAC and defeat Chinese again and again ? Why are they building barricades in Delhi and not against China ?

    • Very true. SG should wake up and realise people of india wants change from Congress thinking. At least for once write something in favour of current government and support farm laws as they are meant to increase livelihood of poor farmers.

      • I declare myself to be a Bhakt. Absolute fan of Modiji. However, I like to listen to SG and apprecite his candid views. I pay subscription so that people like him can express their balanced views.
        Modiji can also make mistakes – Demonetisation was the biggest. But that doesn’t take away the man’s overall thirst for securing a better future for India and Indians against all odds.
        Don’t foget, Modiji is also fighting against the Swadeshi gang, except that they don’t come out in the open.
        SG sir, please continue your work.
        Jai Hind!!

  28. Yes, this battle is lost. Just like the CAA-NRC. People are prepared to come out in mass civil disobedience. Indians should have done the same after demonetisation. Indians did not stand up then, and they allowed the BJP to suck their blood. But it is never too late.

    • You hit the nail on the head !!

      Indians, in their blind Modi worship, accepted the false and foolish narratives behind demonetisation, CAA, lynchings of Muslims and indeed, the whole shaka package of saffron fascism. They do not realise that Modi cannot anymore be held accountable to democratic norms and rules. Exactly like the Republican Party’s initial tolerance for Donald Trump’s trampling of democracy that was accepted but then only increased the more the Republicans were willing to give him carte blanche for his fascist, white supremacist rants.

      The USA might have a grip on the situation as many institutions such as a free press resisted Trump’s onslaught. But India’s press is compromised and institutions such as the judiciary and the police do Modi’s bidding, not what the Constitution expects them to. Indeed, even India’s thriving godman industry knows that backing whoever is in power keeps the taxman away and one can literally get away with murder. Just ask the Sadgurus, Sri Sri Sri types, Baba Ramdev and so on. They follow the template of Dhirendra Brahmachar, Indira Gandhi’s personal godman.

      The million dollar question is whether Hindutva fascism will lead to more separatist violence in the country or not. But the bhakth cares not as long as he can lynch a Muslim. As a Hindu, I am totally appalled at the hijacking of Hinduism by the RSS and the conflation between Hinduism the religion and Hindutva, which is nothing but Nazism in saffron colours.

      • Both India under Modi and US under Trump have shown how democracies can slide into fascism, by electing people with scant respect for democracy, just like Nazi Germany.

        The causes seem to be economic squeeze and resentment politics. In the US, the demographic change and decline of the white population is fueling white ethno nationalism. The whites feel entitled and feel the space is shrinking for them. The positive thing is the US institutions were strong and Biden has checked it – but probably the foundations for fascism have been laid and it will not go away. It may or may not be reversible. In the US the danger is its gun culture and the whites can get violent. The white ethno nationalism is rumbling in Europe also for the same reasons (due to demographic changes). The opposing factors are they do not have guns and they have had direct experience of fasicsm and where it led them in WW 2, so more Europeans are sensitised, there will be people to challenge it.

        India is the most hopeless of the cases, more likely to be unable to check a decline into Nazi Germany. The key factor is the RSS, a parallel for which does not exist in the US and Europe. I blame Congress for not taking steps to dismantle it, check their source of funding, curb their drill in the maidan, and their violent activities. By not curbing them, they have made the Congress irrelevant. After the assasination of Gandhi, the RSS was curbed for some time, but the ban was lifted. So they have grown and become a state within a state. The BJP reports to this unelected body. That is why people say the BJP has a hidden agendum.

        Whether Indians have something to resist the RSS or whether they will go down like Nazi Germany remains to be seen. In the CAA-NRC, the students and Muslims took a very constitutional line and they adopted a Gandhian style civil disobedience movement, and others joined in. Covid interrupted it and caused a defusion. Then came the farmers protest. And it is also in the form of a civil disobedience movement. The temptation to turn it into a Hindu-Sikh issue is there, and I get messages against Sikhs from time to time, and also the claim it is being orchestrated by anti-nationals. It is just possible that the effort to run the economy for Ambani and Adani harms Hindus enough that they will come out in civil disobedience. With the CAA and farmers, it can be deflected on Muslims and Sikhs, but the turning point will be when there is an issue where the Hindus believe they are going down due to Modi.

        • Very interesting analysis.
          But the common man on the street does not know about the RSS and it’s objectives. He only knows Modi. He votes for Modi. He believes in Modi. Modi is the OBC face of an organisation which is essentially aimed at preserving Brahministic culture and thought. Hinduism as a political end-game thus is all about keeping the flock together both upper and lower castes – in one larger picture.

          • Mohan, thanks for the reply. As for the common man voting for Modi, of course the pull of religion in an undeveloped country like India will be a powerful appeal, but there is an creeping element of doubt about EVM tampering influencing the results.

            The RSS is Brahmanistic for sure; all their heads have been Chitpawan super Brahmins, bar one. Golwalkar wrote boastfully that the whole world can come and learn from India how to organise society with 4 castes according to Manu. Modi is an OBC, but he goes along with it – he once said Dalits should do ‘their jobs’ with sincerity and pride. Sardar Patel was also of similar background, but he was not a reformist of any kind. Kovind said India became free only in 2014.

            Your last sentence about keeping the Hindu flock together is correct – but the question is for whose interest and how. The interest you have pointed out is to preserve Brahministic culture and thought. The ‘how’ is by beating up the minorities. You can see in this thread people writing about teaching the obstructive minorities a lesson. They do not mean the Brahmin minority. They have created the narrative that the minorities, Dalits, and now backward farmers have been obstacles for India’s rise.

  29. Remember the line from RS Sodhi of Amul, “Bhachhe ne zidh pakad li”. The 18 month deferment was the lollipop given to the kid (farmers organizations here). What does the parent do in this situation? Ek Thappad and the kid becomes quiet.

    Govt should do that now to get the kid (farmers org) to get back to study (farming).

    The saying goes Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child.

    • You can’t do anything. Do you really think Modi was the only genius to think about these reforms? There have been attempts before including one by Amrinder Singh himself in 2002. Punjab was the first state in India to pass the Contract farming Act. It simply failed because farmers from Punjab did not enter into any contracts.

    • Khalistani ideology is a bogey, hardly anyone follows it. Sanghi ideology is real. It is followed by the government and the majority. That is why India is going to peices. Like Nazi Germany.

  30. The other day, this man, SG, was sermonizing ‘never waste a crisis’. Someone should gift him a mirror. But then how can a mirror help a blind man?

    • I think Guptaji was referring to Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine – wherein she has catalogued the innumerable times democratic governments have used their public’s distractions with floods, or Covid to introduce bills which are ‘anti-people.

  31. This sicker Gu…pata is really against the development of India and is happy to see the anarchy happening on the name of protest..one thing I can say confidently Modi Sarkar may lose a battle but will definitely win the war…so guptaji relax and enjoy modi Sarkar work

  32. Only sometime ago, Shekhar Gupta wrote eulogising Modi for his ‘Thatcher moment’ and urging him to stand firm like the Iron Lady, claiming India’s whole future depended on execution of these farm laws.

    Shekhar Gupta has now reached the understanding that without carrying people, you cannot succeed. He should have reached that thinking before. If Adani was building grain silos in advance, and then you tell the farmers, these laws are for their benefit, and not for Adani’s they will smell a rat. Modi had already said he would doublet heir incomes in his first term – but it did not happen. Then why should the farmers believe ?

    As for Gupta’s comparison of Modi with Thatcher, the Iron Lady did stand firm against Argentina, but our chowkidar surrendered land and told us nothing happened. The Iron Lady did not organise a pogrom and report to a paramilitary group.

    Now after claiming India’s future depends on Modi’s mythical powers and farm laws, Shekhar Gupta fears and warns Modi not to create another communal bogey as that will end India’s future.

    • Your comprehension is flawed. Shekhar Gupta always said and still maintains that the laws are good and I agree. It is the loss in the long term for India if these are repealed. Argentina and China are very different scenarios, and again without understanding the situation you are just talking. Be pro or anti issue not pro or anti government. That is the immaturity of the people of india.

  33. The reforms are in two parts. More flexibility for farmers in marketing, bypassing the APMCs if they wish, entering into arrangements with organised retail for long term, reliable supplies. So long as everything is voluntary, optional, no one should have a problem. 2. I think the trigger for this agitation is an unspoken fear that the government has taken a first, clandestine step to dismantling an almost half century old system of procurement of wheat and rice. One that is becoming both fiscally and agronomically unsustainable. Such a momentous decision requires to be widely discussed, consensus created, and phased out, allowing farmers sufficient time to change cropping patterns. So if the promise of MSP being continued is taken at face value, the government has lost not just the battle but the war. Power tariffs will not be raised. Feel free to burn your stubble. Deplete the aquifers, also fill them with chemical residues. Which makes the continuance of the agitation simply a prestige issue, the government afraid of losing face. 3. One shares the Editor’s concern about not lighting a fire with the Sikhs.

  34. Since when do you care about governence and consensus? Some days back, it doesn’t matter to you, how bills were passed in parliament? Also, you are strong supporter of capitalism. If capitalism is really about wealth generation, you would not have seen large number of beggers and poor people in US. Govt should privatise govt and give it to RSS. Probably, in your opinion then country will function smoothly.

    When Ram Temple verdict came, you were aroused. This issue is settled. Really, that time justice was by supreme court? And you care about governence. Capitalist don’t care about governence, they only care about their business interests and profits.

  35. Wow!! The BJP fake news propaganda machine is in overdrive – in the comments section!! Thomas Mohammed – brilliantly overdone!! 😀

    Hasn’t that been figured out by now, that the duopoly are nuts – about power!! They won’t give up the throne – even if it means breaking the country apart, or ruling it through the police and armed forces!!

    How can farmers protests be against national unity?!! The direction the propaganda machine takes always indicates the direction the duopoly want to go!!

  36. As Shekhar has put it, politics will always be there. There is no non political movement. The Congress. Communist parties, RJD and Haryana parties are all looking to this as an opportunity to be relevant. An option is State wise willingness for adoption of farm laws as a way out of imbroglio. This strategy will place the opposition in a quandary. After all Maharashtra farmers have been agitating for open markets and genetically modified crops.

  37. What farm laws battle. Modi has lost his six years sage image effort internationally. The way the bh akts responded in colorful graphical language to Rihanna and others, now the international journalists are saying that ISIS is saintly before our bh akts. We showed our Hind utva culture to the whole world.

  38. Everytime SG writes about politics or talks about it and unashamedly be wax eloquent about his psephological prowess or the ability to be in the know of things – it reminds me of summer of 2019 when while hobnobbing with one Prannoy Roy they together made a mess of election prediction. And the analysis was nauseatingly juvenile and anachronistic. Their prediction of UP results was hilarious to say the least. Anyhow they might be good psephologists but probably reading the script upside down.
    Go ahead The Print censor the comment.

  39. Two-faced, feckless Guptaji is enjoying the schadenfreude (enjoying the misery of others) of the Modi govt. He joy will be shortlived — he has been more wrong than right in his dubious analysis so many times.

    All bogus arguments — which reforms will not be opposed by vested interests? And we saw just how violently on 26 Jan.

    Remarkable duplicity of the Lootyens mafia embedded hacks, like SG. At least few of this cohort like SS Aiyar and Mihir Sharma have had the honesty to strongly champion the laws, which they believe is good for Punjab and the country — and to introduce more reforms, which India badly needs.

    Guptaji will forever remain a devious pamphleteer. The good of the country be damned. He can console himself that he is not a namak haraam: That padma bhushan from Saint Sonia, how can I ever forget that!

  40. Shekhar ji is right. Govt screwed up on narrative ,doesn’t matter the laws are right or wrong. In the past ego of a PM led to separatist movement, we should learn from the history and need not marginalize the Sikhs. They are integral part of India , they have sacrificed and have done more than enough . The laws can be implemented over the period of time by educating the merits and taking them into confidence.

  41. An effective govt would keep its eyes and ears open.
    Is there nobody in this govt who would read such pieces and give the govt a perspective different from their own?

  42. So the laws are good, their implementation paramount to development of this country, but when a bunch of people riot, create lawlessness, protest on tgings not even related to farm laws,they need to scrapped for the greater good…. It is also justified…. Wonderful Mr Shekhar Gupta….so much insight… This country is anyways going to the dogs …

  43. Time an again the mistake most political commentators and analysts in India make is to take the opinion of a few thousand or even few lakh people on the streets as the opinion of whole of India. Few thousand people in a meeting can make for a great photo op. But dont forget India has crores of people and the silent majority always make their effect on the ballots when the time comes.

  44. Maybe its time to teach Sikhs a lesson,they are getting too big for their 15% boots. If there is an insurgency, then Sikhs will pay too. And pay heavily. There is no need for either indian government or Indian people to bow to minority hooligans. If they want a fight, let there be one

    • Best comment on this platform, wonder how come it passed through The Print’s comment moderators, must be Friday night hangover. The other day I took a Chagatai fellow from Pakistan to cleaners and The Print true to its Lutyens salt didn’t publish it.
      Yeah I agree, we’ll not tolerate such minority hooliganism. Punjab pays lesser taxes than even Chhatissgarh!

    • This time if you teach lesson to Sikhs.. then be ready for the lesson which we will teach you if you do wrong with our community then how you will think that sikh don’t teach the lesson to Hindus in PUNJAB don’t talk rubbish we want to live peacefully but some people like you are separatist who want to divide the country in to several pieces

    • We, sikhs, are peace loving, but if you’re challenging it, then this fights should take place between you and I before it gets escalated. Hiding behind keyboard is not going to unclog your shit brian. Not scared if we have to fight our identity. Sikhs are not fighting against govt, they are protesting against the ordinances.

      • Shant bhai shant. Punjab aur haryana de Hindu tvade naal hain.
        Dont fall for biharis nd east up sanghis.
        Dont let them communalise haryana and Punjab.
        Remember on ground there is brotherhood nd it’s getting reflected in protests which is hurting bjp

      • The BJP’s favourite tactic is to create an enemy (punching bag) and rally it’s supporters behind it through carefully crafted propaganda. That has been their political model to come to power and retain it.

    • Naive and immature comments. The world is watching, violence achieves nothing in the long term and inviting it is folly. One country should be working together to find the correct middle ground

    • This is not a Sikh struggle. It is a farmers’ struggle. Even broader, it is a Indian human rights struggle against state jackbootism. Even Greta Thunberg and Rihanna understand this, why can’t you ?

      Till yesterday, you were the type who would say ‘Sikhs are Hindus’ and only Muslims and Christians need to be put in their place. If you now think that Sikhs need to be put in their place, imagine if the Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Dalits and leftists join together and decided Guajratis or Sanghis are too big for their boots.

      As for minority hooligans, remember the country has been held to ransom by the majority’s hooligans – RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Ram Sene ….Under their influence, the country’e economy has gone into freefall, unemployment has rocketed, Chinese have taken land, and there is constant civil unrest….

    • Drunkenness of power causes you to carelessly say this. Democracy is not just about winning elections alone. Our country is very diverse and complicated to be ruled and dominated by a single ideology.

      The law of Nature is what goes up will come down. You will not be able to hold on to power forever. Most people will wake up eventually once they see through the power games and will then vote you out. It is a question of time.

  45. Dear Mr. Gupta

    At last you have taken a position which I for one thought was never going to happen.

    I agree with your views here.

  46. you have in this article decided to ignore the merits of the laws, the good of the country, the democratic duty and such matters and ultimately brought it down to politics and asked why not.
    now then face the blunt truth. despite support from all political parties,left liberals, substantial section of the media etc to a mob of few protesting, the majority of india still believes and stands behind mr.modi in this matter. the common man cares about the farmrer but knows that this law is good for the country. so politics is about majority and MAJORITY STANDS BEHIND MR.MODI IN THIS MATTER. WE MUST RESPECT MAJORITY AND THAT THIS IS POLITCS.

    • The farmers are fighting for everyone. Without them, there will be no food. Ambani and Adani can produce it. You cannot drive the farmers to penury and build Ambani and Adani. Forgive Ambani and Adani’s bad loans but not the farmers.

      It was the same with the CAA-NRC. Your type will say that majority was alright with it. But the minority will be put in a concentration camps, so they protested. Even the most timid animal will struggle for its survival regardless if you are the majority.

      Get real. If this is the majority’s right to harm others, the conclusion is the majority is incompetent and unable to rule India. If ‘the majority’ continually stokes divisions and creates problems, and mismanages the economy, the country will disintegrate.

      • There is no evidence to say Ambani or Adani is behind this. It is unfair to flog them without concrete evidence.

        It is basically lack of trust between the protesting farmers and the bjp government. The government should have debated the laws in parliament and assured farmers instead of bulldozing it during a pandemic. It is clear they were in a hurry to bring about these laws. It’s their signature style be it demonetisation, GST, 370, Covid lockdown etc.

        Whether it is just farmers from these 2 states that are unhappy with these laws only time will tell .

      • In. US the country produces more food with 1% farmer population. IN india with 50% farming community we are still starving. THInk its time to layoff some farmers and make them do some real work

      • If Ambani and Adani loans are forgiven, then equity in their companies are taken up. Can we take farmers land in lieu of debt forgiveness. Secondly, why are we nationalising banks. If banks are privatised and regulated well, then you won’t be asking this question.

        • Farmers are looting from the majority ? That is your understanding ?

          The farmers are feeding the majority who does not know how to grow food. It is hard, laborious work and I wish for them to be paid well.

    • No politics is not about majority but about striking balance between interests of majority and minority. Don’t forget we are living in democracy not in an authoritative majoritarian rule where politics would only confine to ‘majority’, and ongoing massive protest is outcome of failure of maintaining this balance. Had the govt respected the institution of democracy, this situation would never have arosen.

  47. If govt lost battle ,then agitation must be stopped now and farming must be resumed so far. The fact is, it is not a battle realted to agriculture and farm bill as it appears. It is something else also.Picture abhi baki hai…

  48. “This crisis requires political sophistication & governance skills, Modi-Shah BJP has neither.”. Those are pretty strong words.

    While it is true that the Modiji led BJP government has not led to any path-breaking governance and all their major governance decisions were massive failures due to foresight and implementation, political sophistication is something very few leaders across the world possess.

    The virtues to survive in politics according to the new-age strongmen are now strong-arm tactics and annihilation of the other leaders either through social media or even physically if possible as happened in Russia.

  49. This arrogant government brought it upon itself by unilaterally deciding what is good for every body. There can be no doubt that by following proper parliamentary procedure, much political tension and opposition could have been defused. Anyway, now it cannot be undone. Withdrawal of the three laws is not an option. It will negate the Parliamentary supremacy when it comes to making laws. The government has to grit its teeth and hope that the approaching crop season will wean away the protesting farmers.

    The obstenacy shown by the leaders of protestors makes one wonder whether these people know what they are asking for? How long can any government provide MSP or subsidies. The pandemic, the chinese PLA army at the door have overloaded the finances of the country. How much more burden can the country take? If these foolish farmers want MSP to be engraved in stone and delivered to them, that won’t happen.

  50. 1) How can you justify blackmailing by a group of farmers from one state to change a policy which was passed in both hoses of parliament?
    2) Ordinance was passed in the event of Covid.
    3) If Punjab/Haryana farmers can get away with this then no reforms will be possible
    4) I bet Rhianna didn’t know what was the laws, where is Punjab and what they are protesting against? She must ve been piad by Khalistanis and Pakis
    5) You cannot blackmail whole India of Separatism. It is Sikhs and Punjabis who will loose more than the rest of India. Remember you ve Punjab on the other side and we know how you many Sikhs are there on the other side.
    6) By speaking of separatist movement you are walking in the trap of Pakis not anyone else.

  51. You are perhaps not dispassionate in addressing this developing story.
    Neither it was about merits of the laws (most of the experts, including you, have opined that the laws are good for the farmers) nor it was about negotiations (as you observe that the GOI kept offering one after another concession without any counter offer)
    This was never a farmers vs GOI, although it was portrayed as such. The presumed trigger is the enactment of farm laws but similar events would have been enacted with or without the said trigger. The game is much deeper
    It was a brilliantly marketed challenge to the ruling dispensation and the nation state.
    It is a grave threat of lasting consequences and every well-wisher of India hopes that there is understanding and wisdom in top leadership to blunt this threat
    It is nothing but a fiction that if GOI were to conceed to each and every demand of the protesters, the farmers will go home and every one will live happily ever after !

    Let us see in couple of weeks where this saga leads us!

    • Very well said sir. Absolutely the developments that reveal themselves as the days pass indicate very much the game indeed deeper with anti-India elements seen actively playing the same. Yes, as you said rightly it is time for the Indian leadership to blunt this challenge. The farmers agitation has, by such interplay of anti-India elements not remained merely a farmers agitation that it should have. It has transformed into a global “break-India” movement. If the agitators’ grievances refuse to be satisfied even after 11 rounds of talks, then one can easily infer that the demands are something hidden and different from the farm laws. It it time to safeguard the interest of the country first over anything else at such a crucial and critical moment.

  52. I can turn this around to say Sikh separatism may or may not revive, but to use its bogey is nothing but blackmail. In a related issue, I am sure that our defence experts are planning to broadbase their recruitment strategy.

    • Weak limbed people can only be keyboard warriors and propagandists. They will send courageous and valorous castes to go and fight the enemy at the borders while they stoke “nationalism” by the pen.
      .

  53. Optics wise it’s even keeled.

    There is an out from this mess as I have already mentioned it earlier, couple of times.

    Make the laws opt-out.

    If farmers of Punjab and Haryana do not want in then this opt out clause will help them achieve and maintain the status quo for these states.

    Rest of the states can opt in and start the journey for greener pastures.

    This template can be used for any big reform nationwide going forward.

    • National laws like the Farm Bills are anyways optional for the states. Kerala, WB, Bihar, etc. don’t even have APMCs, various states have various models. It the same for various other national-state issues such as say, solar power generation. So it’s not about the farm laws. This is a well-orchestrated international Left-backed campaign against non-Left majority governments. They have tasted blood in the US; Australia, India, Brazil are next.

      • ‘The left has tasted blood in the US ‘- so you wanted overthrow of the US gov. by white nationalists and fascists ? They would deport or murder you afterwards.

  54. A brilliant analysis as always. My two cents – A repeal of the laws will sound the death knell of India improving and modernising permanently. Although its too early to call out election outcomes, BJP has lost UP later this year. It has 3 choices under the assumption that the next General elections will. see a fractured mandate. 1. Spending as they have done now and shoot for growth as they have done now, 2. go back to their shell of incremental reforms or 3 A scorched earth policy by spending and leaving the economy in shambles. Its a shame that excellent laws have been pushed back under the alter of politics. This reminds of what. George Friedman had assessed about India in his book, The next 100. years, where he goes on t o say how India will never become a dominant player because it will never become prosperous due to the pulls by different ideologies that will fo refer ensure that the country cannot decisively go in one direction. We may just have to live with that.

    • What more do you expect when Indians vote for either religion or caste most of the time. Political parties just exploit this weakness in Indian mentality. India seems destined to remain a divided house because of so many castes and languages and cultures, and majoritarianism is just so superficial – cracks will begin to show up within “united” Hindus in a few years.

  55. Behind all this eloquence, how conveniently the Red Fort rioting is left unmentioned – nice tricks with your words, but you aren’t fooling anyone. Do we remember the 400 injured policemen, the destruction of public property, the inconvenience to the general public for the past 3 months,
    All in the name of “democracy, competitive politics, brutal, fair and fun”?

  56. There is one major weakness in the author’s argument. The author states “There is no democracy without politics. When the UPA was in power, the BJP opposed all its good ideas,”
    Fair enough, but the BJP didn’t instigate riots, anarchy and lawlessness to express it’s opposition.

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