The Union Government has ensured that the police exercise restraint in dealing with the agitating ‘farmers’ who have laid siege to Delhi. The agitators, too, remained largely peaceful, many of them treating the outing as a picnic. It was in this context that the government allowed the proposed tractor rally, the route of which was worked out in consultation with the police. Unfortunately, however, the events of Republic Day unfolded, revealing how deeply the movement has been infiltrated by anti-social and anti-national elements. Warnings had been given by all and sundry in this regard but the leadership of the movement, itself a disparate lot, had refused to take heed. Now, the movement has been greatly discredited and it is unlikely that the government will display the flexibility it had earlier by offering to suspend the agri laws for a while.
The saving grace is that, owing to the police restraint at much cost to itself – almost a hundred personnel have received injuries – there was no firing and deaths as a result. A particular reason for going the extra mile in this regard has been to ensure the protestors are not provided martyrs for the cause. The Khalistani presence in the crowd, which became undeniably evident at the Red Fort incident, has been seeking desperately to raise the ante by making it a Sikhs versus the Indian State issue. It is tragic that this utterly foolish and dangerous cause still finds followers in Punjab after the dark period the state has been through, foreign funding and instigation notwithstanding. Everybody knows how much damage has been caused to the state’s economy and development by the terrorism years.
It may also be noted that any agitation for workers or peasants rights that is joined by the Communists invariably ends up a failure. This is because they introduce into the negotiations an ideological rigidity that prevents a middle ground from being found. Many a factory across India has had to be closed down over the past decades because, instead of focusing on the workers’ needs, the leftists are looking to further the imagined revolution. In the present agitation, there is this unlikely coalition of landowners (whom the Left would have classified as ‘Kulaks’ in another situation) and professional trouble-makers who are neither farmers nor labourers. Added to this mix is the opportunism of the political hobbyists like Yogendra Yadav, and the social-media warriors that have made it their job to bring down Modi.
And, as usual, there are the dynastically ruled political parties hoping to revive their fortunes from any disruption that might emerge. The Congress, especially, has made a mess of politics in Punjab and is continuing the tradition into the present day. These parties have failed to play their important role in the present crisis despite knowing full well that agriculture reform cannot be delayed any longer. They should not complain if public opinion turns against them even further in the days to come.