Why don’t TV channels ever show Narendra Modi’s pre-2014 speeches?

Even as TV channels are busy maligning farmers and calling out critics and the Opposition, the Prime Minister cannot muster the courage to talk to farmers directly

Photo Courtesy: Social Media
Photo Courtesy: Social Media
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Ranjona Banerji

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, the strongest man in India, the embodiment of Courage Unlimited, is unable to speak directly to India’s farmers.

The protest by India’s farmers began after the three contentious farm bills were bulldozed through contentiously in September 2020. But it was only when farmers, initially from Punjab, decided to head for the National Capital in November that they got media attention.

And it was after they were attacked by the Haryana and Delhi Police with water cannons, tear gas, faced with barbed wire barricades and government-destroyed roads to stop their progress that they got international attention as well. That was on November 26-27.

We are over a month into these protests. And it is no longer farmers from Punjab. They are from Haryana, Rajasthan, UP, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra. Across India. those who cannot march to Delhi are on protest in their home states. It’s a bitterly cold winter and the Delhi area has been under the additional misery of a cold wave.

But where is the brave prime minister?

He is busy informing us over and over again that the farmers are being “misled”. He is consistently and insistently blaming the Opposition for doing the misleading. He is haring off all over the country to discuss disconnected things. Watching and doing nothing except to discredit farmers as five rounds of talks between his government and the farmers’ unions failed even after a meeting with allegedly the world’s canniest problem solver, Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

The campaign to attack, abuse, malign, maul protesting farmers is relentless. Attempts to divide farmers’ unions, pit them against each other carries on apace. The propaganda machinery works day and night to find those six farmers on Mars who are Modi supporters and to dredge out from the past every comment any Opposition politician has ever made about farm reforms.

An additional problem is that by muddying the waters with their own chicanery, the Modi government and its supremo are unable to explain their logic in these so-called reforms. Like almost every policy by the two Modi governments, bar Modi’s diabolical demonetisation, these so-called reforms are convoluted, mangled, badly-thought-through, distortions of someone else’s idea. Even outright supporters of this government are unable to put up effective defences without resorting to some sort of blame game.

What is completely obvious is that, despite claims, the farmers unions were not adequately consulted about a move that will supposedly benefit them the most; nor have the Acts been explained to the people of India. How does the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system work now? What happens to the Public Distribution System? What exactly is the benefit to corporates and the extent of their promised stranglehold on produce? What will be the extent of privatization? What happens to farmers who cannot access private buyers? What happens to the tremendous debt and trust networks?

These are only some of the unanswered questions. The bulk of the mainstream media behave true to type and assist with government propaganda. They take their cue from Modi and as he blames various opposition parties, they dig into their archives to pull out old speeches without context.

They could have pulled out Modi’s old speeches, which are also somewhat contradictory to his current stand, but if wishes were horses…

The overwhelming conclusion appears to be that both the Modi government and Modi himself are completely clueless about most aspects of these three farm acts. The impression that they were rammed through to benefit corporate India seems inescapable. Equally plausible is that a BJP think tank and a few bureaucrats decided this would give the BJP good electoral standing and thus they made a mishmash of earlier proposals and ideas.

Almost nothing the BJP and Modi do is for anyone else’s benefit except themselves and those close to them. This could be the development of an app, where the app creator is a crony who makes a fortune at public cost or the anonymous electoral bond scheme where the BJP rakes in anonymous donations.

Therefore, the underlying suspicion that these farm laws have to benefit someone else, someone close to the BJP and its government.

Does this explain Modi’s reluctance and inability over the past three months to address India’s farmers directly?

Or is it as likely that his ignorance is matched only by his chest size?

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