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