Bharat Bandh: Farmers lost what they had gained!

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RAJ DALUJA

JAMMU: What ought to have been the protests of Anndata-the farmer-the current agitation on farm bill in most part of India stands vitiated by politics and vested interest of India bashers, more importantly Modi bashers. For settling scores with the Prime Minister, the inimical forces went to the extent of shouting Pakistan Zindabad and Khalistan Zindabab slogans reportedly during farm rallies in Punjab, the land of warriors and patriots, the state which vindicated the slogan of ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kissan’ all the times. ‘Allah-o-Akbar’ slogans also aired in what essentially were protests against the governmental measures-right or wrong.
Who stands benefitted by these unwarranted and provocative slogans? Not the farmers at least? They got trapped in the politics of Modi haters. They lost the sympathy of India, as political actors hijacked their agitation for their political maneuvering.
Common Indians wonder and question as to why the farmers’ unions called the Bharat Bandh a day ahead of the crucial talks with the Government of India. Being decisive in the series of talks, the organisers could have waited for a day. But they didn’t. Was it at the behest of their self-styled and newly acquired or thrusted Messiahs in the political spectrum, who preempted any breakthrough in Wednesday talks? Were political parties worried over the outcome of farmers’ dialogue with the Union Agriculture Minister? The sequences of events indicate, ‘yes they were’. For the agitating farmers and their supporting political parties and affiliated trade unions, however, the Bharat Bandh had very little impact across the country. It was totally partial, if not a flop show, which the well meaning section of analysts vouch it was.
Now, what would be the strategy of the farmers and the government on the negotiation table on Wednesday? The farmers’ unions will certainly be at the back foot because of little support their nationwide strike call evoked. And, much to the misfortune of simple farmers, the government will remain in dictating mode because it won in the war of nerves.
The hijack of the essentially peaceful farmers protests’ leave a crude lesson for trade union movements. As long as the protests remain apolitical and neutral, the organizers gain strength and once falling in the trap of politicians, the momentum gets derailed.
The partial or failed Bharat Bandh exposes the inherent dangers to national security. Even as the sympathies of Indians were with farmers, the fast evolving sequences forced them to rethink. The farmers’ agitation is subtly shaping into another ‘Shaheen Bagh type of agitation’, which was in no way nationalistic notwithstanding the manipulators playing smart by holding the anti-CAA agitation under the banner of Tiranga. They might have exploited Tiranga but their motivation was certainly anti-national. The same actors have now jumped into the farmers’ agitation. The leftists, along with Congress, are out and supporting the agitation. Did anyone from the farmers ask them that if they were so strong proponents of their major demand to retain APMC, why the left-led government in Kerala had not evolved such a mechanism in the state? Similarly, how come the Congress and the Shard Pawar led MNC had overnight emerged as supporters of the farmers despite having pitched for agricultural reforms a decade ago? They wanted to dilute the APMC– Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Yard, which is any place in the market area managed by a Market Committee, for the purpose of regulation of marketing of notified agricultural produce and livestock in physical, electronic or other such mode. The Centre has assured the protesting farmers about retention of these market committees. Then, why hullabaloo?
Without going into merits and demerits of the ongoing agitation on revocation of farm bills, the fact of the matter is that it has been hijacked by the discredited politicians, who are frustrated after losing the cradle of power. More than losing power, they see no immediate hope of regaining it in coming decades, which is why they were exploiting the situation by supporting all moves, either at Jawaharlal Nehru University in the form of ‘Bharat Tere Tukde Honge Inshallah Inshallah’ and in the ‘Shaheen Bagh’ leaders, whose calls for choking the Chicken Neck in order to isolate and cut Assam and North East with rest of India reverberated menacingly. Their overtures with Khalistanis and Kashmiri separatists are now well known.
By walking straight into the trap of political zealots of India, the farmers’ unions have betrayed peasants across the country, who put their hard toil in fields to feed the nation all the time and even during the present agitational times by organising Langers in cities and towns with the hope of being heard. Their voice has, however, been choked by Modi and India bashers. Choice has been theirs.

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