Tuesday, 9 August, 2022
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Manmohan Singh blundered with Anna movement. Modi is making the same mistake with farmers

The farmers’ movement is not about Punjab, middlemen or just about MSP. It’s a much deeper anguish.

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There is a well-known rustic north Indian story of ‘99 pyaj aur 100 joote’. Ninety-nine onions or a hundred shoes. A man was asked to choose between two forms of punishment for his misdeed: Sau pyaj khao ya sau joote khao (Either eat a hundred onions or get a hundred shoe lashes). He chose to eat onions but could not go beyond 99, and thus ended up with a hundred shoe strikes as well.

This is exactly what happened to the UPA-2 government while handling the Anna Hazare movement. It first chose the path of indifference and repression but could not carry it beyond a point. That was followed by its humiliating capitulation. The government ended up with the worst of both worlds: it looked weak and immoral.

Something similar is happening to the Narendra Modi government. For once, PM Modi’s sharp political acumen has gone missing over the last ten days. The government began with imperious arrogance. It did not feel the need to consult farmers’ organisations, not even those within its own fold, before announcing sweeping changes in the legal architecture of Indian agriculture. It brushed aside desperate pleas for stakeholder consultation before the ordinances were converted into laws, short-circuiting all parliamentary procedures. It turned a blind eye to all the warning signs: big and small protests all over the country on 9 August24 September, and 5 November. And it just stood and watched the unprecedented farmers’ mobilisation in Punjab. Finally, short of shooting at the farmers, it tried everything to foil the farmers’ march to Delhi: barricades, boulders, digging up roads, water cannons, and tear gas. It did not work.

Also read: The method in the madness of ‘jhatka’ policymaking

Even after the farmers camped on Delhi’s borders, the government’s response was to place conditions for talks. That did not work. It tried the usual tricks in the unconditional talks that followed: divide, distract and divert. Farmer leaders did not fall for these. No wonder, the second round of talks also remained “inconclusive”. The government’s intransigent behaviour has meant that so far these talks have seen little meaningful talk. The government insists that it will discuss anything except the repealing of the three farm laws. The farmers are determined that they cannot discuss anything else, they shall not settle for anything less.

Also read: Punjab’s frustration & anger is rooted in its steep decline, now visible in farmers’ protests

A larger, deeper anguish

Just as the Manmohan Singh government failed to read the nature of the Anna movement and the depth of its popular support, the Modi government is also a victim of false images around the farmers’ movement, often created by its own spin doctors. The UPA regime had at least the media to show it the mirror, the current government has denied itself this crucial feedback. The government will continue to blunder as long as it does not face up to some basics about this historic protest by the farmers.

First, it is not just Punjab. No doubt Punjab farmers have been the vanguard of this struggle and other regions were slow to catch up. But the dramatic events of 26 November have catapulted this agitation in the national imagination. There is significant mobilisation from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. And now that Rajasthan is free of its Panchayat elections, one should expect mobilisation from that end as well. Covid restrictions prevent farmers from other parts of India to come in big hordes, but I have noticed farmer leaders from all over the country flocking to the protest sites. The protest enjoys the support of practically every noticeable farmers’ organisation. So much so that the RSS-backed Bharatiya Kisan Sangh has been forced to extend moral support to the movement. This is now a national movement.

Second, this is not a movement of “middlemen” carried out by opposition parties and covertly supported by ‘Khalistanis’. This is a farmers’ movement. Farmers all over the country may or may not join this movement. They may not be fully aware of what it is about. Yet they now share a sense that the Modi government is doing something big and something bad to the farmers. Reports from neighbouring states hint at popular upsurge not very different from the Anna movement: panchayats in Haryana are passing a resolution asking one member from each household to join the movement, villagers are offering food to agitators, roadside dhabas are offering free meals, and some petrol pumps even offered free diesel.

Third, this is not just about MSP (minimum support price). Sure, a price assurance matters to the farmers and could have gone a long way in allaying their anxieties. But things have moved beyond that. The government’s reported offer of giving assurance to maintain the current level of procurement at MSP is unlikely to cut any ice now. Every farmer organisation in this movement is wedded to the idea of repealing the three farm acts. They will simply not settle for anything else. Actually, it is not even about these three laws. As in the case of Lokpal movement that became a site for all that was wrong with the country, the farmers’ movement has become an occasion to express farmers’ anguish at the way they have been treated for several decades.

Also read: About half of farm produce sold outside APMCs anyway. But Modi govt wants one-size-fits-all

A message

We stand at a critical juncture. PM Modi needs to take a deep breath, ask his flunkies and megaphones to shut up, and say this to the farmers: I know you have some genuine apprehensions about these three laws. It is my responsibility to address your concerns. Therefore, I am taking these back.

Will he have the courage to do so? Or will he give in to the temptation that most authoritarian leaders fall for, namely, go for full-throttled repression? Or something more sinister and diabolic?

The author is the national president of Swaraj India. Views are personal.

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  1. Comrade Yogendra Yadav should become the Prime Minister of Bharat. As the PM, he should give everything needed and wanted by Bhartiya farmers for free, from birth to death. Jai karl marxa, jai comrade Yadav.

  2. Do you take the ownership of assembling an Incapable and opportunistic team during the Anna movement. Lot of people left by trusting you folks and you all withdrew. Did not even offer any apologies. How do you sleep in the night by motivating so many people leaving the job and joining your movement. People understand that country have rejected you multiple times because you do not inspire trust and only anti government policies.
    Time for you to do introspection.
    It is a two way street and your past performance will decide your future.

  3. So far the Farmers have no legitimate grievances apart from some implementation issues with setting up of private market places…

    Logically and in a court of fact there is no single reason why farmers would want to repeal the 3 laws unless it is an ego issue and a political stunt to demonstrate farmer pride!

    I do not support the farmers for the simple reason that they havent shown any legitimate defect beyond the conspiracy theories of corporate take-over and alleged MSP abandonment.

    Facts are not in their favor and truth alone prevails!

    • Remember how formally and publicly enactment of GST was carried out: through consultations and formal conferences with all stake holders, from big industrialists, renowned economists to state representatives. Why it couldn’t happen with these agricultural bills? Are farmers something to be taken for granted? Are farmers are always required to come to roads for expressing their feelings and grievances.

      Forget about those, this bill came into existence in a historically most dubious way in the first place. If these policies are so benevolent and beneficial why there is the need of so much of treachery. Are good things require so much of cunningness? If farmers are ultimately going to get better price outside why shut mandis and MSP–won’t they automatically shut on their own. Just remove the compulsory restriction pin farm produce to be sold in mandis.

      On one hand, there is a talk about farm insurance policies (which are complete gimmicks anyway) to superficially raise sense of security, on the other, by shutting Mandis and MSP increase real fear and insecurity among our farmers.

  4. other than Punjab, Haryana other farmers are not on streets. also, what has old system given to farmers other than freebies, declining income, etc. reforms are needed with declining ground water levels, climate change etc. this author is the worst author who deliberately misleads, omits facts just to keep farmers poor

  5. This is a fake movemennt and Capt Amrinder and the people of Punjab are going to regret it. They opened the doors for the Khalistan and Islamist movement. So much for being loyal, a drama being played out.

  6. The only argument against the (farmers related) laws that may have traction is the way it was rushed through the parliament. In a parliamentary democratic system, the bills are put through a system where every member has a chance to give his/her opinion, discuss implications of the legislation and after proper detailed deliberation have the bills amended, withdrawn or passed into laws. If the NDA government led by Narendra Modi shows hastiness and passes bills without adequate scrutiny, the Indira Congress has been responsible for setting up that unhealthy precedence. The BJP government has doubled down on that tendency.
    It is quite possible, the farmers’ agitation could become a rallying site for all the forces opposed to the BJP government. However, the negotiators on behalf of farmers shouldn’t delude themselves into thinking that they could force the government to annul the laws already passed. They and the government must find a middle ground. That’s the objective of any negotiation.
    It would also be tragic if participants in agitation didn’t know what they were for or against. In this case, the agitators seem to have jumped on the bandwagon of anti-BJP government. They are from the cities of Canada, New York to the Punjab.
    This display of herd mentality smacks of anti-national identity politics aimed at dislodging the government, help create instability and usurp power.

  7. There is no point in vilifying Yogendra Yadav – an honest thinker and analyst. As usual, he is partly right and partly wrong. He is right in saying that consultations should have preceded the enactment of bills. This facilitated the opposition to convince farmers about possible ill-effects of the farm bills. The pent up resentment has now exploded and the government will have to concede, negotiate and withdraw some debatable features. But Mr. Yadav deliberately presented a highly exaggerated scenario and blown the presumed effect out of proportion. This is wring, Mr Yadav. Indian farmers will not be better off if bills are withdrawn. Similarly, there could be no revolution of a sort, if reforms are doggedly carried out. The scenario doesn’t change much in any case.

  8. As for as comments on Modi s political career, NO LEFTIST NEED TO SAY OR WRITE ANY THING. Simply most of them , This writer included, do not possess mental faculties to understand what common people of India think and practice. They do not even pause to think why ? Why in spite of their non-stop propaganda Modi is getting and enjoying the people mandate since 2002 onwards.
    On farmers demand please read on————-

    Farmers in India constitute a big vote Bank .So they have been pampered by all political parties to garner their votes on whole-sale. This is has resulted many economic ills and evils in the country s economy. They want and are GIVEN free electricity, or at bare minimum highly subsidized rates. They want and are given water for free of cost. They want and are GIVEN fertilizers at subsidizes rates. They want AND are GIVEN bank -loans at cheapest rate of interest and after taking loans wants and ARE GRANTED loans repayments waivers. They want and enjoy that their income from farming and other villages based activities etc should be EXEMPTED FROM INCOME TAX. But they want highest prices for their produce. They dictate terms how they HOW will sell their produce and wants the Government to ensure MINIMUM SUPPORT PRICE (M S P ) . Politicians are there to oblige them. This has resulted and there is continuing drainage of taxpayers money . There is Food corporation of India giving loss of more than 100 crores of Rupees per day to country s finances. The regions and state Governments which have benefited most from the Government spending on agriculture have not invested in Agro-based industries and this is main reason for persistence of rural poverty . End result is then — what happens see a movie UDTA PUNJAB. But don t despair, sooner or later every birds or every plane ultimately lands on mother Earth. NATURE IS THERE TO PUNISH THEM— Droughts- floods usually bring justice to their pampered mindset.

    • Without support for farmers and government control of agricultural produces, Indians will not have cheap food on their tables. We are secure in our food security unlike China or other countries which need to import agricultural produce.

      What governments should have done is provide support for competitive and efficient private sector businesses. Instead we have crony capitalism, corruption and not enough creativity and innovation based economic expansion. Today we have many underemployed in villages in informal sector unable to lift themselves up generation after generation due to lack of jobs They look up to the goverment to help them with subsidies as they continue subsisting in their villages.

      China with same problems as India in 70’s accelerated the migration of population from rural areas. Only 15% of their population is in agricultural work. They got massively industrialized but they have a food security problem. Probably a balanced approach is better.

      • Firstly the food is not cheap.. it’s in proportion to the cost and income levels.. the food would be cheaper if government didn’t buy and waste stocks in FCI godowns. If you consider that no income tax paid by farmers and the large subsidies drawn from the taxes paid, it’s really expensive.

        • Food would actually be costlier if farmer subsidies are withdrawn. Poor Indians would simply not be able to afford food without government support.

          There are many subsidies given by government for instance the consumer PDS subsidy that gives rice/wheat ar Rs 2/kg. This is double the fertilizer subsidy given to farmers.

          Why target only farmers. MNREGA, free toilets, free health insurance, free housing, free laptops – everything is a waste of taxpayers money ultimately. These subsidies/handouts are a political necessity in India unfortunately.

  9. This guy has only to criticize, I do not know which PM he ever likes or he voted and luckily that PM got elected.
    Firstly, Govt is not playing hardball they are in full engagement and are sensitive to concerns of farmers. I have not heard anything that is really against 3 laws nor I have read something to convince me that those laws are draconian laws. Even commentators (except this guy) who are generally anti-Modi even have only appreciated and raised concern on implementation of laws. That is true with every law.
    What I understood is that farmers want counter party protection which is available in Mandi, I feel that is a fair demand.
    Further there are some legal procedural refinement which is required again I feel it is a fair demand.

    They are asking to make MSP applicable to private contracts, I do not think it is fair and it will sow the seeds for another agitation annually to increase MSP in other words farmers will shoot themselves in foot.
    There is some rationalisation sought on violation of stubble burning, I think even other states which are affected by them need to be taken in confidence. Imagine if people of Delhi stop the trucks coming from Punjab because they are genuinely suffering.

  10. Some people think that every agitation is like the Anna agitation. Little do they realize or are will to accept that Anna agitation had caught rulers with their hand in the till. Here the agitators do not want their hands being taken out of till.
    To display the pathological hate for Modi some are willing to go to any extent. Despite all the praise showered on MM for his intellect he presided over the most corrupt and inefficient government. With the help of thieves the GDP went up but who much of it come down to the last man?
    In ten years the man did not even utter the word CORRUPTION because he was surrounded and kept in power by the corrupt.
    The expert wearing raincoat in shower was the most appropriate description, to compare him with Modi is another level that some stoop down to.

  11. I have a suggestion. Modi government should accept all of the farmer’s demands and repeal the recent Farm Laws.

    In return, the farmers should agree to the following:
    – farmer’s earning more than 1Cr each should pay income taxes to the tune of 10% of their income which should be used for the welfare of other poor farmers
    – those earning less than 1Cr each year should file IT returns declaring their income anyway.

    Why should 6% of the population bear the burden of 100%?

    • Everyone in India pays taxes in GST. Even poorest.

      Farmers come in informal sector they don’t have guaranteed incomes as they are highly dependent on Nature. Not wise to compare salaried income earners in formal sector with those in the informal sector. Even salaried income earners are subsidised with PF, pension, health insurance, HRA and income tax deductions under chapter VIA.

      As it is difficult to ensure income tax compliance from informal sector it would seem better to give GST rebates for those salaried earners who pay income taxes. Richer salaried earners should get higher GST rebates as they have paid much more income tax. Remove PF, EPS, HRA, LTC, deductions etc. these subsidies for employees are costs for companies to pay and to monitor and will make tax filing easier. But that is not something the politicians of socialist India will ever venture to do.

  12. The GOI will NOT withdraw the Farm Bills.Their thesis is that 800 million farnmers will gain,and the 10-30000 farmers protesting do NOT capture the sentiments,of the 800 million.

    The GOI cannot give MSP o/s the Mandi.The GOI is bankrupt.Indian Private sector does NOT want the Mandi.If a person does NOT buy from Mandi – Y will be pay Mandi Tax or Mandi Fees ? The Private sector will buy at farm gate and store in their yards – mandi is out.

    Once the private sector quit – the mandis will have no volume and the mandis will collapse.

    Then will come in the private sector mandis at lower costs and taxes – and the govtt mandis will cease to exist.

    MSP is a meaningless concept o/s the mandi as the PRIVATE SECTOR cannot be FORCED TO BUY A QUANITY OR A QUALITY AT A FIXED PRICE.They will

    stop buying and import.

    Basically the GOI is bust and they have decided to wipe out the farmers.Farmers are a dead weight.The surplus rice and wheat are eaten by rats or exported at half the MSP.The GOI has decided to destroy the farmers and shift the small farmers to a labour class which will always be in surplus – to keep wages low.dindooohindoo

    Only large farmers and corporate farmers will stay.

    FCI will also buy from the Private sector.

    The TOP 100 FMCG companies on the NSE can meet the ENTIRE AGRI PRODUCTION of INDIA.

    So what to do with the farmers ?

    They have to be eliminated ! This day had to come !

    Either kill the farmers or the Bania,Marwari,Gujarati,Brahmin,Kayastha,Pandits.THAT IS THE ONLY CHOICE.




    5 nations of Africa can feed the world with AI and Modern Agri.Farmers are obsolete


    In 2020,the Sikhs will know the worth of their So called Gurus ! If they had even a billionth of their resolve (against Aurangzeb),they would have had a separate nation and would not have been on streets !

    Farming is the path of the Essenes – it is not something that Brahmins and Banias will get – ever !







  13. Salim bhai wants GHAZWA E HIND.

    He knows that’s possible by disruption.

    After supporting anti CAA PROTESTORS and rioters in DELHI.

    He has found another movement to destroy INDIA by supporting unreasonable demands of farmers which if accepted will lead to money BEING diverted from DEFENCE AND EDUCATION AND HEALTH care to stock grains which will never be required , at high prices and distributing it through ration shops almost for free .

    No doubt he is aware it will destroy INDIAN ECONOMY which by the way is The way SALIM BHAI expects to achieve his goals.

  14. People like Yogendra are misguiding the farmers and writing provocative articles. The 3 laws passed by the Modi government is the need of the hour and have broad spectrum of support. Farmers should settle the issues with the government and take back their ill informed agitation.

  15. As usual YY has his head in the clouds.
    1. Anna movement was organised and co-ordinated by the RSS. Anna was only a figurehead – there was no “depth of popular support.” Infact Anna didn’t even get his Lokpal – even now after nearly 10 years there is no Lokpal. Truth is Anna did great damage to Indian democracy. He let himself be used for partisan purposes and in the bargain discredited protest movements in India for everyone else.
    2. The UPA was answerable to the people – it was sensitive to public opinion – it could be shamed into doing the right thing. This PM is backed by very powerful and rich people and has been since his days as Gujarat CM. He is answerable to them, not to farmers or labourers or students or media or opposition or parliament or the courts or any ordinary Indian. This govt will do what their powerful backers want – and they have decided that the agriculture sector is booming and they must have a piece of it. No “farmers movement” is going to damage this govt.
    3. There isn’t any extraordinary political acumen playing its role. It is plain and simple brute money power. Money power has made the media supportive, institutions supine and the courts pliant. As long as Modi is making his rich backers happy, the money will flow and power will likely remain in his hands. What can poor farmers do against this “money power?” RG has been right all along – suit boot ki sarkar hai yeh. The Modi govt is a govt of the rich, for the rich and by the rich – the poor better be quiet and suffer whatever they must. Otherwise UAPA and jail awaits them. Look how Arnab Goswami – rich and favoured journalist has been treated by the courts and look what Kappan – poor journalist has been facing.
    Poor YY has a lot to learn about the ways of the world.

    • UPA was sensitive to public opinion???hahahaha
      UPA were so busy in looting,corruption and saving their inept govt that they forget ruling country.

  16. Wolf in a lamb skin – Be careful my Sikh Brothers, these are the fascist BJP Hindutvadis who fooled you before during partition and now they are here again to fool and deceive you again.

  17. Two things moved me. Sardar Parkash Singh Badal returning his Padma Vibhushan award. Farmers invited to Vigyan Bhavan for day long talks eating their own lunch. Our democracy is losing the ability to listen with sincerity, feel the other person’s anguish, see her point of view as equally legitimate. Not a happy position to be in. I don’t think last week’s fine tutorial will be paid heed to.

  18. haha..stop dreaming of becoming another kejriwal. People remember the treachery of AAP. People recognise the fakes now.

  19. Farmers move is legitimate. They have never earned their worth. I extend my moral support to the movement.

  20. Dear Yogender yadav,
    1. See anti establishment rhetoric – the moment you compared with Anna movement reason- Manmohan government was right about it was purely politics playing into BJP’s election push.
    2. If this is a genuine morcha, how can people move beyond the key MSP fear? so it was never about MSP to start with.
    3. Coming from farming background from South, why should we loose such a decent law for farmers sake of punjab, haryana and Western UP farmers? just because they are richer than farmers from rest of country?
    4. Why cant you work with farmers who you are fighting for to move away from paddy farming and go to high ROI produces, which will also save Delhi and northern India from Pollution…but you are interested in starting morcha against delhi government for pollution.
    5. Only message i can appreciate in this is PM needs to buckle down swallow his ego and try and resolve it, but why retract good laws that server rest of the country…may be they can give exception for Punjab, Haryana and Western UP farmers.

  21. The champagne sipping, Lyuten’s leftist commie in disguise Zhollawallah is back with this silly meaningless drivel.
    Be honest – these are not “farmer agitations”. These are Congress thugs hired to create chaos.

    • I feel bad for you. You are incapable of rational thought. Please re-read the article a few more times so that you can understand it. This movement has widespread support, even in the RSS farmers’ organisation and in states without a strong Congress. Trust me, the Congress does not have so many thugs. xD

  22. Why should the govt take these laws back? While there needs to be more consultations, both govts as well as farmers need to come to the middle ground. But junking these reforms is a big no. For far too long, farmers and others rightly anguished over the state of India’s agriculture and farmers’ conditions. Are you really telling me that the previous situation (which made sure farmers always stayed poor, middlemen profited, farmers committing suicides, skewed agri output towards rice and wheat leading to hidden hunger) is the paradise you want to get back through this fight?

    If there are apprehensions,( genuine apprehensions have to be addressed) junking all 3 laws is a big no. Taxpayers who engage in the productive sectors of economy have been taken on a ride for far too long and the wealth from there is put into India’s agriculture with loan waivers, msps, free water, free current making sure that india will never have enough money for infra development, it’s groundwater depleted, basic civic amenities taking a hit and depressing overall human productivity.

    I urge the farmers and so-called farmer leaders (the author calls himself that) to urge all state govts and centre to get them out of farming. This sector is inherently not designed to support so many people. You people masquerading as farmer leaders want them to remain there in perpetual slavery.

    Farmers (or any single group based on identity or profession) shouldn’t get to hold state hostage. Does the socialist in YYji prevent him from seeing the fiscally nightmarish and hence economically disastrous these farmers demands are? I will happily to accept them provided leaders like YYji pay 10x more tax than others.

    I am going to say this as sweetly as possible. Farmers and agriculture aren’t the only thing india is all about. If anything they are our unsuccessful stories. Repair them or move them. Holding state, economy, larger taxpayers, urban governance, basic civic amenities hostage through ridiculous extravagant demands is not right. If that is the only way the farmers think they will be fine, then they should demand to move them from unproductive agriculture to another job that can create wealth not just for them but others too. That’s how all countries function.

    YYji, zara take a chill pill. Don’t get ahead of yourself. There’s 3.5yrs more and the modi govt will manage.

    • First of all, ask the entire BJP Cabinet at both Central and State levels to ask how much income taxes they have paid.

      Politicians should not be allowed to contest elections if they have not paid income taxes. They should pay income tax for 10 years before they stand for elections.

      Let’s talk about politicians first, they enjoy lots of facilities when they occupy power. Millions of farmers pay indirect taxes via GST. So farmers also pay for the Central Vista and the private planes to be enjoyed by the political ruling class.


  24. a totally failed poltician with zero knowledge of farming issues desperately trying to make inroads has suddenly become a expert, I wonder why Print bothers to entertain such people

  25. I think it is not Modi but you are taken away by your own propaganda. The protesters are minority of farmers, and you don’t see any popular support either. The more blockaed these people will try to create the more they will lose sympathy of common public who is troubled unnecessarily. They have done enough harm to the Punjab’s economy and now trying to do same for rest of the country.

  26. Tell me something . Why should urban India, which has its fair share of poor, continue to subsidise the rural rich farmers. These farmers dont pay income tax, degrades environment and produce expensive food!

  27. Says the very same person who was dropped from the delegation that met the three-minister panel of the central government.
    Protesting without a clear reason as to why these laws need to be withdrawn is comparable to a child’s irrational outcry.

  28. Can Print stop giving a platform to failed, 3rd class politicians? What credibility this man has? Along with Kejriwal he betrayed Anna. then he was foolish enough to get betrayed by Kejriwal. A man without any credibility whatsoever.

    • To your holiest dismay, Kejriwal is an Engineer from IIT Kharagpur, and then went on to do his IAS, and now in an administrative job of being the CM of Delhi. Modi and Shah and Smrity Irani are the flock of “uneducated politicians”, who are themselves confused about their own qualifications! At one go, Modi had done BA, next moment it was an MA… His qualifications seem as obscure as his intents for farmer’s bills! Tsk tsk

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