Sunday, May 28, 2023
Support Our Journalism
HomeOpinionModi’s way out is to sit down with Rakesh Tikait, draft new...

Modi’s way out is to sit down with Rakesh Tikait, draft new farm laws: Julio Ribeiro

Protesting farmers are ready to wait until Gandhi Jayanti for the Centre to relent and repeal farm laws. Modi govt can't afford to be held to ransom for a whole year.

Text Size:

The demand of the farmers of Punjab and Haryana for the repeal of the three agricultural laws, now taken up in a big way by the farmers of Uttar Pradesh led by Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait, has held the political centre stage for the past three months. It is easily the most ticklish situation the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah government has faced until now with a solution nowhere in sight. Tikait, who has seemingly emerged as the leader of the protests, has declared that the farmers will wait until Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s 152nd birth anniversary on 2 October for the government to relent. Until then, the roads to Delhi will be blocked by agitating farmers and spiked with nails and barricaded by a nervous police force.

The Modi government cannot afford to be held to ransom for a whole year. It has to work out a solution and it needs to do it quickly. It cannot afford to alienate farmers of all people in the country. Our soldiers are drawn largely from the peasantry. Any perceived injustice to farmers will indirectly affect the morale of our fighting men and women.

There is another lurking danger. Punjab’s farmers are at the forefront of the agitation. They had rejected ‘Khalistani terrorists’ and handed them over to the police when they felt that the Khalistan movement was hurting their interests. But malcontents can revive this nuisance if the Modi-Shah government handles the situation in a ham-handed manner. In particular, the government should not operationalise its ‘dirty tricks’ department to get the farmers off its back. That will be counter-productive.

The government is also well advised not to behave like a bull in a China shop. It should not open new fronts against respected journalists and opposition leaders. It is suicidal to take them on at a time when the farmers’ issue is the most urgent one to settle. Tikait’s farmers had supported the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the last two Lok Sabha elections. There is a danger of losing their support and if that happens, the dissatisfaction may spread to other sectors of the economy. From all angles, the Modi government has much to lose if the farmers are not mollified quickly.

Also read: Rural India can’t be dustbin of history. Three farm laws have shown farmers need a New Deal

Consult the farm leaders

Here, we need to pause and shed a tear for PM Modi if not for Home Minister Amit Shah. This is an avowed Right-of-centre government. It needs the support of industry, which would then expect the government to look into its concerns in return.

So, why cannot the Modi government consult the labouring classes (their leaders, of course) when it frames laws that it asserts is for their (farmers, workers) benefit? It is good leadership to take them along by making them feel part of the decision-making process. In the farm reforms, the government very rightly felt that subsidies and waiver of farm loans needed to be given a decent burial. Why should the farmers object as long as their quality of life sees an improvement, which the government says will happen? Also, the fear that the corporate sector entering the agricultural markets will impoverish farmers and those dependent on agriculture needs to be addressed. It will be a little more difficult, but it is the degree of difficulty that finally tests the government’s mettle.

PM Modi, in an election speech delivered in West Bengal last week, deprecated the presence of some regular activists at every protest site, whether it was the anti-CAA/NRC protests, the JNU and Jamia Millia Islamia students’ protests, the anti-farm laws protests or any other. He insinuated that they were BJP baiters who were the first to target the government irrespective of the merits of its intentions or its actions. He also saw a “foreign hand” in these developments as Former PM Indira Gandhi was wont to allege. Or did he mean that the usual suspects engineered the criticism abroad and thereby let down the nation?

Also read: Modi govt has lost farm laws battle, now raising Sikh separatist bogey will be a grave error

Ignore Rihanna and Co.

I would advise PM Modi to ignore crooners like Rihanna and young environmental activists like Greta Thunberg and others who, as his government suggests, may have been approached by ‘anti-India’ elements to comment on matters that do not concern or even interest them. Rihanna, most probably, will not be able to pinpoint Punjab if a map of India was placed in front of her. But she has a million or more followers on Twitter and that must be what those who could have prompted her sought to take advantage of.

It would not be surprising if we learn tomorrow that opponents like the Sikhs for Justice, a brainchild of the Sikh-American New York-based lawyer Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, set up the Barbados-born singer. There is no need of losing any sleep over Rihanna’s tweets because any damage she has caused is already done and will soon be forgotten. Just make a resolution not to bypass parliamentary practices and procedures in future even if fast-paced implementation strengthens the image you seek to build. The downside to such haste is debilitating. It is best avoided for your own peace of mind.

Reaching out to respected cricketers, singers, movie stars and household names to counter the little damage done by Rihanna and others has only embarrassed two Bharat Ratna awardees and other stars. They would not want to get involved and at the same time, they could not say ‘No’ to demands made on behalf of such a strong leader. To top it all, your old collaborator, the Shiv Sena, in the important state of Maharashtra, has decided to investigate how the two Bharat Ratna awardees have issued identical statements to counter Rihanna.

The Modi-Shah government is in a Catch-22 situation of its own making. It is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. The lesser evil now is to withdraw the three laws and sit down with Rakesh Tikait and other farm leaders to draft new laws, which are in any case necessary to modernise the farm sector in India.

The author is a retired IPS officer, former Mumbai Police commissioner and DGP, Gujarat and Punjab. Views are personal.

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism


  1. but tikait does not want any new farm laws. he wants the new laws to be scrapped. where is the meeting ground?

  2. Yup! There’s a thin line between being a strong leader and an arrogant one. When you lose your connect with the people, you won’t realize you’ve crossed the line

  3. If he does so then goodbye to any reforms in the future. No one will dare to do anything that upsets the present status quo.
    The nay-sayers are not giving any alternatives except restoration of the system that gave Tikait his Rs. 80 crores even as small Punjab farmers have suicided.

  4. Ohh,so when Sachin tendulkar and Lata mangeskar expresses their views,it embarrasses them.
    Perfect Modi and BJP’s blind hating rice bag convert, pretending as a liberal.

  5. Aisa Kuch Nahi Hoga,ye dacait Aur baaki gatarchhap karodpati,garib kisaan ko lutne wale bichaulion ko andar daalke toda jayega,Modi ghanta baat karega iss kutte se

  6. Author is a respected police officials and has a stellar record of service to the nation. In this current times of heated discussions on the issue, it is best that he lets leaders and agitators sort out the issues. No one is likely to pay any heed to his advice. In fact, it may be misunderstood and considered unwarranted, if not biased. India has gone through many difficult times in the past and has come out well. In fact, he was instrumental in resolving one of the gravest problems in late 80s and 90s. There is no reason to believe that this time it will be any different. Some of the examples could be – China has mended its behavior and pulled back. We have done extremely well in dealing with Covid and vaccine. Indian economy has not been in too bad a shape. etc.

  7. Here is our newest expert on agriculture. Officers of the IAS, IPS and allied civil services are experts on everything under the sun.

  8. Sir, your article is a typical expression of blackmail. Khalistan etc. This is the same bogey given for 370, Shri Ram Mandir etc etc. Who is in hurry here? Modi has till 2024. Reform has to happen and will happen.

  9. Seems like you woke up very late on this subject. This issue is in the public domain for a while and now it is not a farm law issue but a political issue. The opposition, left wing activists, liberal media, anti Modi brigade, op-ed writers and losers of 2014 and 2019 elections want to build a narrative against these laws using foreign celebrities and activists. This is a very sad game and this needs to be countered promptly and efficiently.

    Governments and forces can deal with any internal/external threat to the nation by anti-national elements and this was shown how they crushed the Khalistan, Naxalite, Kashmir and other extremist organizations. You should have known these facts by being the ex police officer.

    Any Government cannot be held ransom by few select people irrespective of the perceived injustice meted to them. In a democratic setup, there are ways and means to communicate and convince. How can the farmer leaders do not trust Supreme Court, do not trust the Government, but will occupy the public places for months as if it is their right. Protesting is their right but occupying public places for indefinite time is not their right. You should have known this as being officer of law enforcement.

    Unfortunately for many of the intellectuals will support any agitation against the Central Government irrespective of its merits. Indian people and voters are very mature and they know what is happening behind the scenes and will respond accordingly in the future elections.

  10. There is no point in trying to “sit down” and to talk sense to these unruly and indisciplined mobs and their “leaders”! Let them sit on roads and railway tracks until their ottoms start paining and wait them out. Such protests are uncalled for and contrary to normal democratic principles. This particular one is organised by and for the benefit of rich farmers and uses poor farmers as bakras!

  11. There anarchists show as if there is no other solution in Indian democracy other and blocking roads,
    Modi government should not negotiate. Let the courts intervene, and no anarchist can stop common man’s lives by blocking roads.

  12. Sadly a former police officer doesn’t talk about how people proded by certain religious beliefs with instructions from ROME are posing as environmentalists and opposing farm reforms.

    I would request ex POLICE officer to use his experience to answer whether environmentalist can support farming which uses significantly large amount of fertiliser using depleting as well as polluting ground water and also stubble burning causing health issues to new born children and old people.

    Mr ex POLICE officer are this environmentalists OR psychopaths.

  13. 1. Modi’s way out is to sit down with Rakesh Tikait. To do what? Roll back the laws that are passed by an elected Government. Why because there are no points to discuss. Is the nuisance value of a group with a threat of violence to be given into? Were the MPs who passed the law not elected and sent to parliament by the agitators. In a functioning democracy we must to learn to wait for the next election and bring about the change. Any elected government cannot afford to be held to ransom by a mob.
    2. Punjab’s farmers are at the forefront of the agitation. What about the farmers from other parts of the country? The SC has formed a committee where experts will listen to all and explain all arguments to SC, to help SC made a decision. NOT ACCEPTED.
    3. Why cannot the Modi government consult the labouring classes (their leaders, of course) when it frames laws that it asserts is for their (farmers, workers) benefit? The leadership of the agitation is obviously in the hands of money bags and beneficiaries who are allowing by design or otherwise the entry of undesirable elements and porn stars with lockets of Ganesha on bare chests, to instigate violence ( anyway in this country we have no concept of blasphemy which will allows cutting off of organs.)
    4. Our soldiers are drawn largely from the peasantry, they were also drawn from the Punjab when the operation blue star happened. If any dispensation is ever to think of this, then we might as well be an army dictatorship.
    5. The government is not in a Catch-22 situation. It has been a clean government with no scams so far. It may not be to everyone’s liking but in majority under the constitution. It may not be perfect but it has its own logic, not dominated by vested interest and corruption or so appears.

  14. Aandolan Jeevi!!
    It is east to call me bhakt, but nation is not about individuals i.e Tikait and Modi. There is no one in India who is of the status of “ultimate”. Nor PM nor Tikait.
    Right window to get redressal first is Agri Minister and currently it is SC appointed panel.
    No one even knows what are the reasons for demand of repeal the farm laws.

    Tikait must present his views to SC appointed panel. They should have even explained the issues to Agri Minister but demand with no justification is repeal the laws. If anyone supports such protest then why should they not be called as andolan jeevi.

    • in india now to be a nationalist is akin to hardline hindhutva advocates because you are not supposed to support anything that mr.modi does.

  15. All very well meaning of course by Mr. Ribeiro. But…does anyone seriously believe that the Modi Government has not factored in what Mr. Ribeiro has stated?
    This “farmer” agitation has NOTHING to do with farmers. It is a blatant attempt to generate anarchy by Congress, various China funded vested interests and sundry anti-nationals.

  16. The demand that the PM discuss with only Tikait is unreasonable. There is a spectrum of farmers across the nation, and not all agree with Tikait. The current status of the farmers discussing with the SC panel appears to be a more workable idea.

Comments are closed.

Most Popular