Farmers’ Agitation : Let Us Thank God For Small Mercies

Whatever be the end result ’ it  can be said with a degree   of certainty that the farmers’ agitation has changed the political scenario in the country . Besides other things it has  changed the course of public discourse which now more  issue focused .No doubt  several  charges have been levelled against the agitators who have in turn accused  the government of being pro corporate . Yet the charges and their language is much better than the cynical Pappu and Chor syndrome   that we have witnessed in the past few years.

Let us briefly examine the charges that have been leveled by the two rival parties to the dispute against each other. Intolerant of dissent and unknown to the culture of people’s movement , the leaders and supporters  of the BJP government have been accusing  the agitating farmers of broadly three  things :

a. they are being misled  by Opposition parties;

b. they are harbouring Khalistani and

c. they are not caring for larger national interests and the longer term benefits of the farm measures. 

Moreover, in what looks to be a combination of insensitivity, meanness and perhaps jealously some blind supporters of the ruling party have also said  that the agitating farmers are having a picnic time and enjoying pizza and dry fruits.

Now let us examine these charges. Any  criticism , allegation or protest in public life  is routinely termed as being political. Once accused of playing politics in a certain matter Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Jagjiwan Ram retorted by saying that  in politics he was supposed to play politics and not to sing bhajans( devotional songs). Therefore, to say that the farmers are taking support from and are being influenced by politicians in their struggle is no charge. Similarly   if the Opposition parties do not use the agitation to further their interests they are unfit to be in politics.

The charge of Khalistani infiltration is serious , is also  in bad taste  but has no substance. The   Khalistani movement which was an outcome of the wrong policies of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi , is long dead. A small fringe of it might still be there in Canada but it is of no consequence. Perhaps contribution to the agitation by prosperous relations of the agitators in Canada has prompted the detractors of the agitation to level this charge. However, even those who have made such charges do not believe these to be true.

Prime Minister Modi perhaps feels hurt over the fact that  instead of being grateful for the measures he brought for their good  the farmers  are protesting against the three farm measures. But for this he has to blame himself and his style of functioning. Nothing would have been lost had he initialled a discuss on the three bills and had worked out a consensus on the much needed farm   sector reforms. To accuse the farmers of not knowing their welfare and ignoring the national interests   ,therefore,  does not carry any weight.

It is surprising that the agitating farmers and their friends in  political parties should say that the Modi government is pro big business, does not have  farmers as its overriding priority and therefore, the measures are not good. It shows that they lack basic understanding of politics. It was never a secret that BJP is a right wing party, is supportive of big business, have had no record of genuinely supporting farmers or workers agitations. Therefore, the “discovery” by farmers’ leaders that Mr Modi is a friend of Ambani and Adani is amusing.  

Since there is nothing much in the accusations of the two rival sides the  discourse on the agitation  is thankfully not dirty , cynical or cantankerous. The charges are not personal,   nobody’s grandfather is being put in the dock and nobody’s father’s faith  or mother’s nationality is being questioned .

On a serious note the farmers’ agitation is above all narrow lines of   class , caste, creed and regionalism which could  give its opponents a handle to discredit It is a non-violent movement built around an issue that concerns everyone.

For those of us who do not belong to either side  it should be a matter of great satisfaction that there is no hate campaign, no wild allegations, no cynicism, no distortion of historical facts, no self  s glorification and no cheap talk in this agitation . This gives us the hope that the era of nauseating public discourse is over and perhaps now onwards we will have political discourse in our country on healthier lines. Let us thank God for small mercies.  

—Pradeep Mathur , Seniour journalist

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