My third blog post as part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla, and happily SPONSORED BY RRE Studios and SHOWCASE Events. More posts may be found here.
Nearly two months have passed since farmers have sat on protest outside borders of Delhi. Not much progress has been made despite several meetings. Government has attempted to take the negotiation forward. Farmers had been adamant to a single demand of repealing the laws. Meanwhile, arguments for and against the bills continue in politically aware homes.
It was a biting cold early Jan, evening. Close to a month has passed since the siege of Delhi had began. No less than eight meetings with government and farmer representatives had taken place. No resolution was in sight. Though there was no shortage of food, many volunteers were sleeping in the open in the biting cold winter nights of north India.
Leaders of farmer union from three states were meeting at the Singhu border “We need some breakthrough,” said one leader, “before we lose our support base.”
“Don’t worry brother,” said another union leader, “our support base is committed. We have even asked women and children to join the protest. It is a question of our survival. No one is moving an inch from where they are.”
“I think time has come to raise our battle a notch higher,” said the senior most leader and the thinktank, “announce to press that Kisans will also join republic day parade in our tractors.”
There was a stunned silence at the audacious simplicity of the idea. “Government will not let us enter the republic day parade in front of a foreign dignitary as the guest,” responded one member, “if necessary by force. There may be bloodshed.”
“That is exactly the plan and it is a winner,” replied the thinktank, “if government uses force, foreign press that democracy is threatened by fascist government. Do you know already British Parliament has debated and discussed the farmer protest and cautioned government about entering a trade deal with India.”
There was a nod of agreement among the assembled leaders, they were aware that government is already under pressure due to loss of revenue as a result of more than one and a half month of blockade of all important highways.
The cold weather was not allowing Bhavatosh to enjoy his morning paper sitting outside. These days, he chose a corner of breakfast table for accumulating his daily news. Ever since Bhavatosh’s meltdown, political discussions were banned nevertheless. “At last Modi has met his match,” Today, Bhavatosh could not conceal his glee reading the news headline.
“It scares me when dad finds something so funny”, wondered Adi glancing through the morning paper. “Kisans demand repeal of farm laws; to join Republic Day parade,” a surge of anger coursed through his veins as he read. A victim of this agitation, Adi’s daily commute time has increased by an hour, Adi could not control himself. “No government can accept such a maximalist demand. I would use force to stop farmers from embarrassing India on Republic Day.”
“If you make a bad law, then you have no choice but to repeal it.” his brother Debotosh commented, “Modi has made bad three laws, got them passed using brute majority, did not allow a vote when he feared losing. These laws must go.”
“Since when has it become bad to win more seats in an election? If a parliamentarian works hard, he gets re-elected. Problem with bleeding heart liberals like you is that you have forgotten how to win in a democracy!” An infuriated Adi commented,
“Are you aware that agriculture reform was part of 2019 principal opposition party’s election manifesto, the same party had advocated and introduced contract farming, another opposition party had talked about dismantling the mandi system. This government is not only procuring more by paying minimum support price, they have assured that both support price and mandi system are here to stay. Government is simply giving kisans another choice to sell outside mandi.”
“Son no one trusts Modi, he had promised 15 lac rupees to every Indian’s account, did we get?” Bhavatosh commented, “I am sure these laws are designed to help big industrialists like Ambani and Adani.”
“You are so good at changing goal posts dad; Sometime you talk of democracy for 10% of Indian farmers, ignoring remaining 90% who support these farm laws. Other time you talk of MSP for striking farmers, but forget that in most states, barring Punjab and Haryana, farmers don’t get to sell their produce at MSP.”
“You forget that Ambanis create job and their company grows at 18% per year. Whereas agriculture grows at 3%. For agriculture to be profitable grow, farmers must move away from water guzzling produce that is draining water table and concentrate on high value produce and align production with demand. Farm laws aims to achieve just that.”
“Tell this to farmers sleeping in this cold weather for more than a month, son. These are sikh from Punjab. They had fought with Afghans, Mughals and the British. They will fight Modi” commented Bhavatosh “Double whammy for Modi. If he uses force, he will get bad press. If he sits quiet, he gets bad economy.”
“Arre Bangali babu, I thought political discussion is forbidden in this house,” no one was aware when Daya Shankar had walked in, “didn’t see you in the park for few days; come with me walk is good for your health.”
“What are you saying Daya?” answered an irritated Bhavatosh, “ don’t you know it is dangerous to walk when air quality is so poor? Thanks to your Modi ji, who is destroying our environment.”
“Bangali babu, we all accept that poor air quality is due to stubble burning and you blame Modi for not taking back this law as well as for bad air!” Dayashankar said smilingly, “Adi is this what you call hypocrisy?”
Atmosphere was grim in the ministerial meeting being held at home minister’s residence in Delhi. In attendance were agriculture and commerce ministers, two members representing government in the dialog with the kisans. The meeting was due in an hour. Home minister looked pensive and agriculture minister somewhat worried. As many as seven meetings had taken place between the two sides. No solution was in sight. “Farmers are being adamant,” commented the agriculture minister, “they demand repeal of laws or nothing.”
“I don’t see any scope of a breakthrough,” chipped in the commerce minister.
“We must keep on trying, and try convincing the farmers,” home minister, who is considered a key strategist for the government, chimed in, “you must show that government is open to dialog always; never lose your composure even under the most trying situation.”
“I am not hopeful,” sighed the agriculture minister, “I shall try. To me it appears that farmers are speaking the language of opposition party.”
“You must keep talking, and attempt to direct the talk towards a third party mediation,” adviced the home minister as he saw his colleagues off on their way to the meeting with agitating farmers.
Since the meeting, supreme court of India has formed a committee to oversee and report negotiation between parties at dispute as well as farmer leaders from all over India. While government has agreed to depose, farmers have been disappointed and some even refused to talk to the court appointed committee.