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Encircling the encircled

Our Prime Minister is an honourable man. He does what he says; only at times, people don’t understand. He keeps his promise. He had promised to eliminate black money from the Indian economy. He kept his promise with a blitzkrieg called ‘demonetization’, and big business converted overnight its black into white money while the nationalized banks increased their burden of non-performing assets. The result was for all to see. Many in the informal sector could not see only because they did not survive the blitzkrieg.

This was just like his other blitzkrieg of sudden lockdown at four-hour notice with the solemn advice to us to fight it by banging our utensils, and then lighting lamps. Some, of course, did not have balconies, or even utensils, and before they could fight it, they died on the way. They were the migrant workers on a long march back home.

Then our Prime Minister promised he would double the income of the farmers within two years, and he has already done it. He did it under the veil of a sudden and severe lockdown. The Prime Minister is a modest man who does not like to boast of his achievements. But the country should know. Their wealth was doubled exactly in 227 days! We learnt from a recent Oxfam report that between “18 March and 31 October, Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, and Chairman, Managing Director and largest shareholder of Reliance Industries Ltd – which specializes in petrol, retail and telecommunications more than doubled his wealth, which rose (in US dollars) from 36.2 to 78.3 bn.” The Forbes ‘Rich List’ 2020 puts his wealth even higher at 89 bn. It is 3 times higher than that of the second richest man Gautam Adani who also kept pace. As we know the Prime Minister does not like to mention these achievements because he is modest. So he also did not mention that this billionaire duo is going to be honorary farmers with vast retail and storing (silo) interests in the marketing of agricultural produce. And, when the income of these two ‘farmers’ are added to the income of rest of Indian farmers it can easily be seen that the average income of farmers would more than double in a mighty leap. All pro-corporate market-oriented economists, some here, some others in the IMF and the World Bank might have even estimated it already. That’s why they were so vocal and confident in the media. Farmers’ average income would go up enormously as simple arithmetic of average only by welcoming two more corporate members into their community from Gujarat. The Prime Minister can vouch for them, as he knew them so well, and cut deals with them closely as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, and the bonding has gone even deeper now with electoral bonds, airport contracts and so on.

That’s what the three farm laws intend achieving. It puzzles India’s elite also: why the farmers are unable to see this simple arithmetic? After all most of India’s real rich got richer, defying the law of gravity of severe contraction of the real economy during this very period of lockdown. Much of this was possible due to the rise in share prices especially of Ambani’s and Adani’s companies. This was pointed out by Hurun India list, also noted by UBS in Switzerland as well as Price Waterhouse Coopers. Only the farmers obstinately refuse to see this advantage of owning shares rather than toiling on the fields for meagre returns.

So what option did the Prime Minister have when the farmers behave like a bunch of unruly, bad students who refuse to learn the lesson? They have to be taught by detaining them. Spikes, barbed wire, trenches were used to cordon Delhi’s Singhu and other borders wherever the farmers had gathered. These days terrorists, Khalistanis, urban Naxals, and foreign conspiracies are the deadly viruses competing with COVID-19 as our national intelligence knows so well. The compromised evidence planted in computers is of course just another ‘Foreign Destructive Ideology (FDI)’ the Prime Minister has rightly warned us about. Newspapers like The Washington Post of Watergate fame which brought down President Nixon are carriers of such FDIs which recently carried this news of compromised computers about some Urban Naxals. The former President Trump knew how dangerous this media virus can be. The Prime Minister has always been alert to such dangers. Our alert Prime Minister had to warn us passionately against such ‘Andolonjibi’ parasites, Khalistanis, anti-CAA students, tukra tukra gang members, Urban Naxals. They are all anti-nationals infiltrating the farmers’ movement, and the problem is this infiltrating virus is so strange that the farmers become like them. They all are if not anti-national, then anti-government, and if not anti-government then certainly anti-government policies. Nevertheless, we can sleep peacefully at night because we are in the safe hands of a strong Prime Minister (with 56-inches chest) who does not compromise by making these finer distinctions.

So the farmers have been immobilized on the border of Delhi with layers of spikes, barbed wires, cement blocks and dug up trenches under the strict watch of the police. On the slightest suspicion or even without it, they can be picked up. The Prime Minister and the entire state power are prepared to meet the challenge, although the farmers, men, women and children, are a non-aggressive and peaceful lot. The only weapon that they have is tractors. Looks like an uneven battle the farmers can never win.

And yet, the outcome of this battle is becoming less and less predictable. Not only are the farmers horrible, obstinate, and their determination shows no sign of faltering they have found an almost paradoxical way of fighting this war. They are not interested in coming to Delhi, they are not interested in the wonderfully passionate speeches or the ‘Man ki Baat’ of the Prime Minister, they are not even interested in talking to the government unless the government shows real interest in negotiating. They are not even interested in the prime minister’s verbal assurances in the Parliament about the minimum support price for agricultural produce. They simply want it as a law passed by the Parliament. What is more, the government is alarmed to learn they are no longer in a hurry. They are consolidating their support among the peasantry not only in Punjab, Haryana and western UP among the Sikh and Jat peasantry, but they are also spreading out in North and Central India to Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh. Mahapanchayats are drawing such huge crowds and enthusiastic response that goes beyond caste, religion, and class boundaries that the government cannot but see the writing on the wall. South of Vindhya in Andhra, Telengana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, the farmers’ movement is acquiring new energies every day with enthusiastic farmers taking out marches in support. It looks like the movement is as yet less powerful in East India, but if the huge wave of farmers’ protest reaches the shores of the Bay of Bengal, all hopes of BJP will sink. Farmers are rising as never before in India. They were meant to be encircled by the government, but they are encircling rapidly. It is now up to the political parties whether they are capable of rising to the occasion by going beyond petty electoral seat calculations to drown, as a united force, not merely the three farm laws but also their makers in this farmers’ uprising.

By Dr. Amit Bhaduri
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