Friday, March 31, 2023
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Call off talks with farmers, merits and demerits of farm laws no longer an issue

After the Republic Day violence, if the Modi government still handles the hooligans with kid gloves, then there must be something terribly wrong with its understanding.

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The sword-wielding mobs rushing towards the Delhi Police force, attempts to ram tractors into barricades, hoisting the ‘Khalsa’ flag at the Red Fort and a clip of a man seen throwing away the tricolour are enough reasons for the Narendra Modi government to call off the talks with the protesting farmers and implement the three farm laws without changing even a word in them.

After the shameful incidents on Republic Day, if the Modi government still considers handling these hooligans with kid gloves, then there must be something terribly wrong with its understanding of the situation. There can be no negotiation with Khalistani extremists masquerading as kisan leaders and indulging in vandalism. Holding talks with hooligans and withdrawing the laws will amount to surrendering before the anarchists.

Some of those who tried to lead the agitation, such as Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Thakur Bhanu Pratap Singh, have reportedly withdrawn from the agitation. More are likely to follow suit and weaken the protests, which eventually may dissipate.

Also read: Modi govt’s proposal shows it wants farmers to look unreasonable, not address their concerns

The intentions are clear now

The tractor rally, organised by the so-called protesting farmers, has gone wrong beyond tolerable limits. Announcing the ‘Republic Day’ counter rally, a former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and psephologist claimed that the “barricades will open” and the farmers will enter Delhi and hold an unprecedented parallel Republic Day parade. He made this claim on the basis of negotiations with the Delhi Police, which remains unverified. However, his promise of the rally being peaceful was not kept. Social media is full of visuals of at least half-a-dozen ‘kisan leaders’ openly challenging the government to stop them.

It was very clear from the time the tractor rally was announced that the ‘event’ will be anything but peaceful. This happens to be one of the most shameful episodes of Independent India when the official Republic Day parade was overshadowed by violence by hooligans led by wannabe political leaders who could otherwise do nothing but pontificate during prime time television debates.

The merits and demerits of the three farm laws are no longer an issue. The intent of the protesters is very clear now. All they want is to create chaos, hog the limelight and form an anti-BJP platform. These so-called leaders are far from being kisan leaders. It is no longer about the interests of farmers.

The 26 January incidents should be seen as nothing short of Khalistani extremism and an attempt to revive its sleeper cells. Going by the visuals and the attempts to project the farmers’ protest as a Sikh (religious) protest against the BJP-led central government, it appears to be part of a dangerous game plan. The pro-Khalistan elements attempted to internationalise their movement through ‘Referendum 2020’, which evoked no response in India, especially in Punjab, and very little response elsewhere like the UK or Canada. Their groups in those countries could not muster the required numbers. The entire gambit to brew trouble in Punjab was probably shelved, albeit temporarily, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It appears that the strategy to infiltrate the farmers’ protest and hijack it to be used as a movement against India was a well-thought-out conspiracy.

Also read: Why the farmers’ movement is no longer what the Modi govt thinks it is

Time for protesters to call it quits

Another feature of the ongoing agitation is the political aspect like attempts to regroup farmers through outfits like the Bharatiya Kisan Union. Many of these farmers’ unions are affiliated to the CPI, CPM, Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress. Strangely, many of those at the forefront of the agitation are not even real farmers.

The so-called kisan leaders should realise their folly and call it quits. Their intention, too, seems to be very similar to the one that the pro-Khalistan elements adopted. These overnight leaders and fly-by-night operators wanted to piggy ride on the farmers’ issue, which anyway remained more or less confined to a small group in Punjab.

The Modi government did try to meet the farmers’ demand and showed signs of reconsidering some of the provisions in the three laws that constitute significant reforms in the agriculture sector. Even the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had suggested that a middle path should be found to end the protest. The RSS, with its close-knit organisation and ear to the ground, could probably visualise the protests turning violent and getting hijacked by ‘anti-national’ elements.

Most of those, especially the political parties opposing the farm laws and calling it a sell-out to big corporate houses, were themselves in favour of such laws. According to a report, the Congress party’s 2019 manifesto had promised a number of reforms in the agriculture sector that the three laws have enshrined in them. There is an urgent need on the part of the opposition, especially the Congress, to revisit history and desist from stoking the communal fire.

Also read: ‘We had intelligence, knew intention, but allowed rally in good faith’ — Delhi Police chief

Road ahead for the BJP

Needless to say, on its part, the BJP, with all its cadre strength, will be wasting its time and energy if it does not fan out to the rural areas and reach out to the farmers. The Modi government needs to also address the perception that rich farmers and corporate entities will laugh their way to the bank while the poor and marginal farmers with small land holding will suffer if the farm laws are implemented.

The distress in the agriculture sector is real. Input costs have gone up while the income remains constant or dwindles. It will be wise on the part of the government to tackle the situation before it gets too serious and complicated. The 2021 Budget can be a starting point to address the agrarian distress in the short run. As John Maynard Keynes said, “In the long run, we are all dead.”

Seshadri Chari is the former editor of ‘Organiser’. Views are personal.

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  1. Opinions are subject to the same journalistic standards as any news article. Unfortunately this article presents views without backing up with evidence / facts making it look more like a rant. “Strangely, many of those at the forefront of the agitation are not even real farmers” is a statement right out of the ‘Godi Media’ book. I expected better standards from ‘The Print’.

  2. Chari seems to be a pro bjp person writing false information about unconstitutional laws being implemented by the centre. The laws are anti farmers and implemented in a hurry to favour a few industrialists. The hoologaniam was orchestrated to derail the peaceful protest . The game plan is over now ans the Govt has to repeal the laws

  3. Try it….a peoples movement will always be discredited and the current govt has been trying all tricks to defame this protest as they never expected such a peaceful persistent movement…They are back to the dirty tricks…now they have released 5 battalions of para military to arrest the red fort hooligans..where were these battalions on 26th….dont fool people..we have seen many such tricks in the past also…Rest assured the laws wont get implemented…that much faith i have in the farmers of my country…jor hai toh laga ke dekh lo…

  4. Chair is approaching the issue as a BJP apologist ,perhaps with a a view to curry favor with ruling junta.Agriculture in India is monsoon dependent and its vagaries have resulted in innumerable suicide of farmers.MSP was in one way was to provide some relief and enable thegovtthrough FCI to buildup buffer stock to meet exigencies and also throughPDF provide ROTI to a large percentage of unorganized labor and food deficit states.Chari forgets govt was adamant and in its hubris refused to listen to them and triedonlytopush it.If the intention of the Govt was a sub rosa attempt to bring about corporate Zamindara Itis a very effective tool.Thirumalachari

  5. Who are you Chandrasekaran, A blind leftist who consider anything Modi does is wrong. I wish India becomes like China. People like you and others will be hounded and thrown into jails. Problem with the country is democracy going amok. I hoped BJP government will be tough at least, but that hope is losing gradually. Next coalition will ensure Balkanization of India. I guess then you all will be happy.

  6. First you divide hindu and muslims, then you seek to divide hindu and sikhs. Time shall answer, most of the agitating farmers are hindus only.

  7. Mr.Chari might have forgotten the SC case filed by the Govt & pleaded in the court to block the rally apprehending violence just two days before. The sudden change of heart itself is a clear proof of planned trap. It certainly not a police brain but some cheap political brain. Who theorized it is anybody’s guess !

  8. Chair looks at the issue with jaundiced eyes,perhaps to curry favors with ruling BJP junta.Agriculture in India is monsoon defendant and the large numbers is suicide is an indication of the precarious nature of the agriculturist.Secondly the government has not indicated how it will maintain the buffer stock required for lean years and drought affected states.Thirdly when 90 percent of population is unorganized and dependent on PDS how the state which is primarily responsible for providing ROTI will meet its obligation.If the attempts are sub rosa to induct corporate Zamindara and feudalism then the laws are perfect tools.Thirumalachar

  9. Make no mistake. These are no poor farmers but rich middlemen and landlords who have all the time and resources to organise this drama. There is no reason for this agitation as MSP is not being scrapped. In all of this the government has come out poorly by allowing violence and anarchy to the detriment of the common law abiding citizen. If as the author says that the BJP through its cadres needs to reach out to farmers that it has not been done so is a failure on their part. Thanks to this government the stigma of an attack on the country’s values and symbols remains.

  10. What is all this- “Kisan Unions affiliated to the CPI, CPM, Shirimoni Akali Dal, Congress…..
    Last I heard , all these were accredited political parties in India. Yes, they may not agree to BJP’s game plan but then they cannot be derided just like that. Chari may portray himself like an intellectual but when his guard is down he comes across asan out-and-out RSS man that he is.

  11. Even in an opinion piece, you can’t put things without evidence or it just becomes a rant than a well articulated opinion. Very disappointed to see this on The Print in the name of presenting alternative views on popular topics. I had hoped The Print to uphold higher journalistic values.

  12. there is so much of vested interest in the country in making mr.modi a failure, not withstanding the fact that it is effecting the country’s future. opinion makers must go out of the way to support the legislation.

  13. Your pathetic and nauseating journalism is the reason why people of all sects are now coming forward to protest. If you hv even .1% of shame then show the truth .

  14. Mr. Chari chose to resonate the thoughts of many who are against the farmers
    Indian population is smart enough to understand that it was not the farmwe who indulged in violence just to tarnish their image

  15. Seshadri Chari has no idea what he’s talking about and this whole article is biased. This is clearly coming from the man who has his interests in an obvious political party. Where did you talk about the peaceful protest that were happening at the same time when a few thousand number of individuals stormed the red fort. Did you cover that story? About the peaceful protest? Just because some people did bad things under compulsive behaviour doesn’t mean that you would only focus on that aspect of the story and say let’s forget the talks. This was one biased post. Just because I would hoist an Indian flag at Washington DC, wouldn’t make the whole country look bad, because only I am the one legitimately at fault. Same is with this situation. People shouldn’t take this biased and one sided article seriously

  16. would love to see the restraint Mr Chary would show once his peaceful requests fall on deaf ears for 2 months. Things Mr Chary is doing to be in the good books of the big man. I hope you are put to a similar crossroads in the future, then you would know what being helpless is

  17. hHhH.who are these thugs mr Chary. the usual vitriolic against anybody who questions the govt. first arrest deep the agent provocateur and . pattern is clear. of course rss is adept at these games.

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