Farmers’ resolve has put the government in a real predicament
The brute rustic power of the farmers has rattled the Modi administration, which fondly hoped it could deter the agitators through barricades and water cannons
The spontaneity in the response to the farmers’ agitation makes it stand out from similar campaigns. The agitation is drawing support from all shades of public opinion and patriotic sportspersons from Punjab have threatened to return their awards. The first time this happened was when Anna Hazare launched his anti-corruption crusade. It is a different matter that the movement did not ultimately help achieve its goal, although it swept Narendra Modi’s BJP to power. The farmers stir many not be playing out in the same fashion, but it has the latent energy to sweep the Modi government away from power.
The brute rustic power of the farmers has rattled the Modi administration, which fondly hoped it could deter the agitators through barricades and water cannons. But the strategy failed to make any impression on the farmers, who are toughened by toil and tempered by their exposure to the elements. They made it clear that they are in it for the long haul and that they were not in a hurry. They had come armed with provisions for at least six months of action away from home.
The Modi government is now using the policies once followed by the erstwhile colonialists for perpetuating their rule, the most important of which was divide and rule. Prime Minister Modi also tried his hand in bringing the agitating farmers around to the government side, but failed to achieve any positive result. He has now deployed his ‘Chanakya’ Amit Shah to try divide and rule and break the unity of the farmers. But unfortunately, the simple farmers do not have the sophistication that is required for such tactics to work and their resolve to achieve their goal of getting the controversial laws rescinded completely. Nothing more, nothing less.
The groundswell of support to the farmers’ cause is swelling every moment. It is as though the agitation has provided a rallying point for all the discontent against the Modi government to come together. That is much more disturbing for the government.
Almost the same thing had happened when students and youth of the country poured out on the streets to defend values of secularism in the wake of the introduction of the controversial citizenship laws, which had also threatened to grow into a national resistance movement until the Corona outbreak gave the government an opportunity to thwart it in the name of fighting the pandemic.
But with farmers, even that ploy has failed. The corona protocol has been a major casualty at the agitation along the Delhi borders. Many of the protesters, huddled in tractor trolleys, do not even wear masks, triggering concerns that the dreaded virus infection could spiral out again
in the national capital region, which has had a tough time dealing with the problem. The farmers say the new farm laws are a bigger threat to their lives than any disease and therefore it does not matter if they die from the deadly virus.
The farmers’ resolve has put the government in a predicament, with no easy escape from the problem. The farmers are not prepared to yield an inch from their original demand, despite a number of suggestions and assurances. Both the stick and carrot policies have flopped. So, the government is desperate for a face-saving exit from the imbroglio.
A crucial sixth round of meeting between the two sides has been called off by the farmer leaders after they met Amit Shah. While there was no official words from the government on the status of Wednesday's scheduled meeting, many union leaders asserted they had no intention of attending any more talks and that they will take a call on their next course of action after studying the government's written proposal.
In farmers, the government has run into a stubborn wall, which is not amenable to all its tact, diplomacy and conspiracy. A bigger problem for the government is that there is no political leadership for the farmers, which would have made it easier to deal with agitation.