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Another Outreach

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The government’s case on its farm laws was reiterated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi quite comprehensively on Friday. He urged the protestors to use reason and facts to argue their case rather than be ‘used’ for political purposes. This is yet another attempt by the government to resolve the ongoing impasse that could otherwise escalate to more acrimonious levels. It is a fact that any kind of a resolution can only be arrived at through talks in which both sides try and understand each other’s fundamental concerns. The demand that the farmers will accept only abrogation of the new laws will only lead to the baby being thrown out with the bath water. They must be made to understand why the laws are necessary for their overall good. This is what the Prime Minister has tried to do.

And even before there could be any response from the striking farmers, the Congress was already trashing the PM’s initiative and demanding a total surrender on the part of the government. It is clear that it desires the government face humiliation or the situation becomes worse. An amicable solution is not its objective – exactly what the PM has warned about.

The good thing, thus far, has been the restraint exercised by both sides as the protest continues on the borders of Delhi. The government has focused on talks, while the protestors have relied mostly on symbolic acts of resistance. At the same time, though, it cannot be denied that they are causing great inconvenience to people in the surrounding region to the extent even of endangering livelihoods. Appeals have been made to the courts on behalf of those so affected but, given the situation, there has been no relief provided. There are also farmers in other parts of the country who realise the value of the reforms and have threatened an ‘even bigger agitation’ if the laws are withdrawn.

Unfortunately, all those claiming to be sympathisers of the protestors are actually pursuing their own agendas and are ready even to offer them up as sacrificial goats. This is why the suggestion that talks be held, which would include impartial experts, so that the larger picture can be understood, is the only way to go. The protestors should appoint a team for this negotiation which they trust to take proper decisions. They have already suffered enormous loss of credibility because of the fringe elements that have got involved. Only active and positive engagement with the government can lead to a solution.