The Farmers struggle and its partial advance has shown us the way. Strong movements from below can have the potential to take on the Hinduvta juggernaut much more than stitching electoral alliances. What will be the fate of this movement six months down the line? We don’t know but it is worth recalling the ancient Chinese proverb “a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step”, writes Sushovan Dhar.
No other Republic Day witnessed such unprecedented levels of public claims over their nation. The streets of Delhi were enlivened with spontaneous marches of hundreds of thousands of peasants who wanted a serious say in Res Publica or public affairs. Within a bouquet of lame excuses intended to stop the peasant march, one had been particularly ironic. That this demonstration was a “conspiracy” to defame India before the world by way of doing a tractor parade in the capital on Republic Day. The struggling peasants proved that they held high the banner of the “world’s largest democracy” when the present regime is hell bent at trampling down and doing away with whatever democratic values are left in the country.
Earlier, in an interesting twist to the tale, the Union government on January 20, proposed to suspend the three contentious farm laws for one and a half years and set up a joint committee to discuss the legislation at the tenth round of talks with farmer unions. However, Samjukta Kisan Morcha rejected the offer the very next day. It resolutely clarified the continuation of the movement till the three anti-farmer laws were completely repealed. The AIKSCC was also determined to carry out its scheduled Tractor Parade on the Republic day.
A few days ago, the Supreme Court had expressed intentions to stay the implementation of the controversial agricultural laws while proposing to form an independent committee chaired by a former Chief Justice to “amicably resolve” the stand-off between the farmers and the government. Of course, there were serious questions about the “independence” of the committee nevertheless, the first signs of backing down were obvious.
Government forced to step backwards
Given its belligerent and antagonistic attitude of the present current government – more so after it was elected for the second time in 2019 – the Union Agriculture Minister, Narendra Singh Tomar’s announcement might have appeared a little unusual but not entirely surprising. The government hoped that this announcement would force the unions, determined to take out a tractor rally on Republic Day to rethink their months-long agitation and vacate their blockade of the national capital, tamely. Various measures, including threat and intimidation, to dissuade the farmers were tried and tested earlier but it was all in vain. In an attempt to discredit the agitation, a section of the ruling dispensation hurled accusations of infiltration by Sikh separatist elements. This foul play resulted in a backlash and the government ministers in charge of negotiations with farmers’ unions had no options but to dismiss the allegations, washing their hands off.