The Government at Bay

It was only too expected that the central government would try to misdirect the farmers' movement by all means at its disposal. This is exactly what happened on 26 January. In front of the Delhi police, some persons from the tractor rally reached the Red Fort and hoisted a Sikh pennant there. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was quick to seize the opportunity to malign the movement, and the central government, employed the notorious UAPA and other draconian measures against the agitating farmers. FIR's have been registered against leaders of the movement. The Yogi government of Uttar Pradesh and the Haryana government have let loose a spate of repression by cutting off the supply lines of food, water and other necessities to the protest sites. But the movement is far from dying down. Even a BJP leader of Haryana has resigned from his party in support of the farmers' movement. This is just one manifestation of the fact that the central government has not succeeded.

The disturbances that took place speak of intelligence failure on the part of the Delhi police and its supreme commander Mr Amit Shah. It is, however, not simply a case of intelligence failure. There remains the pertinent question about the identity of those who tried to mislead the farmers into veering off the designated routes. Given the long history of ruling politicians' tactics of infiltrating into popular movements and using agents for breaking the movements from within, it is more or less certain that the disturbances were engineered by the police and the central government, because the tractors' routes were announced beforehand and this announcement followed a discussion with the officers of the Delhi police. The Modi government was evidently frightened by the growing support the movement was receiving across the country. Hence it needed an alibi to swoop on the agitation and crush it The name of one Deep Sidhu, allegedly one instigator, who, the cop claims, is missing, and his photographs with Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are deeply revealing, and the suggestion that he was planted into the movement cannot be ruled out altogether. The cat is out of the bag. This is, however, an old game in Indian politics, planting agent provocateurs inside movements in order to derail and crush them. Sometimes political activists inside the movements fall prey to these machinations, as Naxalites did in the early nineteen seventies, giving opportunities to the shrewd police officers.

A careful study of the new farm laws and their trenchant analysis by learned experts makes it clear that they are meant to allow corporate capital to dominate Indian agriculture and give hoarders and blackmarketeers more advantages. But the diehard admirers of Modi and his party, believers in aggressive Hindutva, do not care for studying anything. They only know how to shout. Even the death of more than a hundred persons does not shake their conscience in the least.

It is also well known that the farm laws were brought without consultation with the states and farmers' unions. They were passed also by muzzling the opposition, without allowing a debate or discussion on the floors of the parliament. This was contrary to all parliamentary norms and conventions. This has been an additional reason for unrest.

Intensified repression has not succeeded so far. In fact, it is a victory of the movement that twenty big and small parliamentary. opposition parties have been constrained to boycott the speech of the President at the joint session of the Parliament. What will be the upshot of the movement is not clear, and it is too early to make any prediction. But the nationwide impact that it has created will not be obliterated soon. Right at this moment, it seems that anything short of the repeal of the farm laws will not be able to douse the flames of unrest.


Vol. 53, No. 32, Feb 7 - 13, 2021