”Farmers” have lost, missed the ”Bus”

Shiban Khaibri
For farmers, they have lost the battle and won’t win a war for a long time now ”thanks” to most of their leaders and those leaders of political parties whose hearts beat ”only” for farmers and some other elements having made unsolicited entry into the agitation etc. As for the Government, for the only fault of being sincere throughout, may have lost the battle now but have carved out a strong road to win a decisive war though doing the good for the farmers shall always continue to remain on their top agenda . Symbolically, that is proved in the shape of the scheme of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Saman Nidhi , introduced and sincerely implemented for the first time since India was partitioned and people’s Government came to power after the British left the divided country. Tenth instalment has fallen due and is payable before the end of the year. Twelve crore farmers have got the cash assistance so far amounting to Rs.158 crore. That happened never before.
However, only times will tell whether by pressurising the government even by employing all possible means within and from ”outside” , thousands of protesting farmers from Punjab, Haryana and some parts of western Uttar Pradesh only succeeded in establishing status -quo ante for as many as 15.75 core farming population across the country. Most of those reportedly favoured the new laws destined to change the very face of Indian agriculture but are now made to undergo the same exploitation of the middlemen, the Arhitis and commission agents as before and who for obvious reasons have been providing all support and backing to the agitating ”farmers” on the borders of Delhi and Haryana.
Repealing the three laws , however, should have never ever been even considered if we really wanted the Indian farmers -the really poor and marginal farmers – to progress and increase their income but the opposition parties most of which in their manifestoes and poll promises had vowed to bring reforms in Indian agriculture more or less on the same pattern as the three laws but the misinformation about these laws and the fears planted in the minds and psyche of the farmers was such that for the last one year, thousands of them are on the path of agitation and are on roads.
Many , however, see the repealing of laws as bending backwards by the government but many more see in it a master stroke of the Prime Minister taking the wind out of the sail of the desperate opposition . Their arsenal against the government and the quiver against the Prime Minister in particular are emptied which has made them jittery and have announced ”Aandolan jarey rehaga”.
The question is not about repealing of these three laws only , the question is how to change the mindset of such obscurantist political leaders and always raisers of bogey of poor being crushed or strengthening the capitalists and MNCs and policies being pro-Adani and Ambani that a Union Cabinet Minister in charge of Railways under UPA rule was mercilessly sacked on the advice of the ally Mamta Banerjee to an economist Prime Minister only for raising Rs.2 to 5 as passenger fare just to augment the sagging revenues of Railways in order to provide slightly better services to the passengers. The tragedy is that the then Prime Minister sacrificed pure economics for sticking to power . Similarly not all political leaders but this very Economist and highly qualified Prime Minister opposed demonetization terming it ” organised loot and legalised plunder”. Even those with elementary knowledge of Economics would term such assertion as motivated and not related to facts.
Massive electoral win in UP followed by landslide victory in 2019 general elections proved that people had voted overwhelmingly for demonetization and the GST though the single tax regime , the GST, the brainchild of Congress , when implemented by the present government was termed as ”Gabbar Singh Tax” by the ”young” leader of the Congress party.
Not only about economic reforms including related to agriculture, banking and other sectors, even socio- political reforms particularly based on humanitarian grounds like the Triple Talaq and the CAA were made the next alibi and pretext(s) to launch mass movements even in the shape of the long sit- in- protest at Shaheen Bagh mainly against one and one person- the Prime Minister. The protests were actively supported , even incited by Congress followed by AAP and others. The aftermaths or the drop scene of Shaheen Bagh was seen in massive destruction of property and loss of precious lives . India thus bled only and only for the sake of votes. Since a vast country like ours with numerous economic issues cannot break the obsolete cycle unless going in for massive reforms and the three Agricultural laws , therefore, were passed by the Parliament. The desperate opposition tasting reversals in launching protests and agitations found these laws as sufficient fodder to ignite the trouble which we unfortunately saw throughout the year. What was some catastrophe like grave dangers associated with these laws that not only in Delhi, Haryana , Punjab but in some foreign countries even , protests and secessionists slogans under the pretext were raised . We have to push reforms if we have to emerge stronger. People have to decide this factor seriously or choose the other way leading to economic backwardness , no progress and stagnation.
The fears about the design and intent of this agitation were sufficiently visible initially when Singhu and other borders near Delhi were occupied for agitation and when ration and other paraphernalia were brought in sufficient lot to last for more than six months to a year as proudly made known by some farm leaders. How did they know that the demand of nullifying these ”black” laws would not be immediately conceded unless purposes extraneous to the concerns for farming were there in mind and on agenda. That was proved sufficiently on Jan26 this year in Delhi and in particular at Red Fort. The opposition and other elements had to eat a humble pie when force was not used by the government though warranted to bring the situation under control and to have the writ of the law established. The opposition could not get the proverbial quail or the Bateer in hands to make the use thereof to the hilt .
However, some opposition parties actively and joined by Eveready leaders like Yoginder Yadav and some Communists found a readymade platform to push their own agenda — “Anti farmer and black laws, Kissanon key Zameen par Companies Ka Qabza hoga, Mandian khatam, MSP khatam, Mufut Bijli Khatam ” and what not. The agitation limited on the places around the three states had started taking an ugly turn despite farmer favourable intervention by the Supreme Court, series of talks between the government and the agitating farm leaders , staying of the three laws by the Supreme court and putting on hold these laws by the government for one and a half years . What else they wanted? Demands for repeal , repeal and repeal and now the three laws are promised to be withdrawn by no less a person than the Prime Minister himself through an address to the countrymen and even offering his hand folded apologies . What else is needed ?
Why now these “poor” farmers do not go home? Why do they not feel thankful to the Almighty that the people in lakhs put to extreme hardships due to this agitation did not come on streets and protest with the same intensity as these farmers? What would have been the outcome ? One shudders just on imagining let alone that happening.
Now, farm unions have invented new demands . How can some people claimed to have passed away in natural course due to cold, diseases, covid etc and counted as 700 be put on the face of the Government and asked for compensation and Government jobs? How can MSP be made an irrevocable promise by the government through a law? How can police cases of some protesters against whom criminal and seditious offences are registered be withdrawn ? How can stubble burning be allowed to choke the people for breathing air ? Now stretching this agitation even by a day must be avoided at all costs as such an agitation having no locus standi or any rationale would be viewed with suspicion . Protest and mob politics in which undesirable elements make entries cannot be justified as that had the potential to cost the country heavily. Agriculture is supreme and paramount and farmers are angels and as such are held in high esteem but we have defence , medical care, education and infrastructure equally important and needing massive public funds , not only agriculture given massive subsidies, offered concessions , no taxes, etc . International food prices are not only becoming cheapest but are easily available which must be borne in mind. The push, therefore, must not become a massive shove.