Agri-agitation: Please do come back!

All India Kisan Sangrash Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) has taken up the issue of reported non-payment of Kisan Samman Nidhi installments to West Bengal farmers. AIKSCC alleged that the installments are due for over two years now and thus the West Bengal farmers were being discriminated against. Kisan Samman Nidhi is totally a center sponsored programme announced in during interim budget of 2019 under which all farmers, irrespective of the land size they own, are paid Rs 2000 every four months. While the administration such as identification, enrolment etc is monitored by respective state govts, the amount is being credited to individual accounts directly by the center without any contribution from state govts.

AIKSCC further alleged that BJP is using the scheme as political vendetta in West Bengal making it an election issue. It also alleged that the Prime Minister in some rally at the state told the gathering that the amounts would be released once they vote for the BJP. The AIKSCC announced Kisan Adhikar Yatra by the West Bengal constituent organization at all levels – right from panchayats to districts to state levels.

Amidst ‘Ghar wapsi only after Law wapsi’ call by the farmers the AIKSCC proposed Adhikar yatra goes on to give a different twist to farmers’ protests. It appears quite clear that post 26 th Jan misadventure and resultant wave of condemnation from almost all corners has led the farm leaders think over new ethos, directions and path of the movement. Does the protests now envisage taking up current issues of farmers at various state levels – more especially and specifically in poll bound states? And if that be the situation whether the farm leaders are going to work electorally against BJP in these states indulging in direct party politics?

This brings us to the larger question of the very equity of the movement. There have been more than enough indications to suggest whether the protests are aimed at some larger and bigger targets with an apparent cover of farmers’ interest postures. From rejecting the apex court’s initiatives to seemingly enjoying current international focus and support (?) the protest is poised to enter into a peculiar dark tunnel where it would perhaps lose sight of everything.

Politically speaking there has been allegations – and at times substantial evidences too – of foreign hands in agitations and protests. Mrs Indira Gandhi had been a crude champion of quickly alleging a foreign hand as and when any protest occurred. Initiating, provoking, supporting and nourishing a movement by foreign entities and even sometimes tacitly by the govts is not very uncommon. These do occur from time to time and there are plethora of examples of that. These days are, after all, very conducive to do that when there is ultra-aggressive invisible but too apparent race of grabbing, establishing and sustaining a strong international position by competing countries is in vogue. India under Narendra Modi may very well be one of the most fertile lands of sowing the seeds of discontentment, dissent, protest and even revolt given the rate and pace with which the country is poised to move ahead post pandemic leaving behind so many other aspirants in the race. The Prime Minister’s address to Lok Sabha responding the debate on vote of thanks to Hon’ble President has had enough hints of the India in wings to fly to new heights she is destined to.

It would be, therefore, natural for the international reactionary forces to meddle into India’s domestic dissents and exploit them to at least slower the speed at which India is tirelessly trying to proceed.

Govt’s continued changed postures and attitudes do indicate a change of approach towards reconciliation and reproachment in place of stubbornness and rigidity as had been apparent before.

The way the center handled any protest/s before farmers’ agitation would be a testimony to this change of approach of the govt. The govt initiative to reach out to farmers too positively and with lots of patience, humility and politeness which rather at times felt like unbecoming of the Modi dispensation would only speak of Modi govt’s eagerness, rather restlessness, to go ahead towards growth as smoothly as possible. The eleven rounds of talks with still a preparedness and hope for further dialogues and resolution proves the intention of the govt too eloquently.

Farm Laws have wider support base and shrinking dissent – a crude and clear fact which goes without mentioning. US Biden establishment’s support of the law is too unique and distinguished albeit with rider to resolve the dissent with dialogue which the govt is untiringly already indulged in. India’s international trade partners are keeping their fingers crossed to see early implementation of these laws paving ways for enhanced, wide and remarkable overall partnerships. But on the other hand India’s adversaries would do, and are doing, everything to stall and block this path.

Whether farmers agitation has gone a total wrong way attracting foreign involvements may be a debatable point but what seems without any dispute is that the agitation has given rise to – one, international involvements, rather interferences, two, diversion of attention and focus of the center from economic revival and growth and three, on social spectrum beginning of revival of few caste based evils like khap panchayats which had been otherwise, of late, on decay.

Without blaming the agitation leaders of anything it could be safely inferred that the movement has lost its direction, gone out of the hands of the farmers and is seemingly serving the vested political interests. It had been good to see that agitation leaders openly denied support of political parties and leaders but the country is yet to see any statement from these leaders to disown, criticize and condemn the statements from foreign stars and dignitaries. It would be quite disturbing to draw conclusions and interpretations on this.

Above all and after all, this is a concluded fact that APMC model of procurements only through the way of MSP has benefitted only a few of big farmers, did more for brokers, commission agents and informal and real mediators and the huge majority of farmers has been out of and away from any practical visible frame work. Study after study has gone on to underline the fact the latest being the report of the committee led bay not less than a versatile popular figure than Montek Singh Ahluwalia. All of us, therefore, must agree to the point made by the Prime Minister that everyone talked of the same reforms at one time or other but many are just bent upon blocking the way of these reforms for political reasons.

Many of us even would not agree govt’s accepting two of their demands – the stubble burning and electricity subsidy – due to many reasonable reasons. But then this showed the taking two steps ahead expecting at least one step from the farm leaders.

No agitation runs and becomes successful on stubbornness of leaders and not everything is achievable in one agitation. Even Bapu was content with salt movement initially as it could break the aura of English invincibility.

In any case, it is just not possible for the govt to completely repeal the three agri-laws simply because they have the support of a huge farmer base, even keeping aside other technical, legal and political factors. It would be in fitness of the things if the center’s positive vibes are utilized up to their best and an amicable agreement is reached upon for the agitation’s failure would ultimately demoralize other dissenters too. Let the laws be implemented, monitored and see the effects. Our democracy is there to take care of future difficulties and problems that may crop up and many amendments would still be possible to these laws. After all, we have even amended our constitution so many times!



Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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