With the announcement on the repeal of three farm legislations on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has conducted a surgical strike on anti-India forces that sought to undermine the social fabric of the country. The same people who were demanding a rollback appear to be angry with the move and are trying to find ways to whittle down the positive impact of the momentous decision.
They had never imagined that the Prime Minister, known for his strong image, would withdraw the farm legislations without creating grounds for the same. This had made these forces frustrated since they had built their entire gameplan of creating social and political unrest by opposing the decision of the Union government.
While some are trying to project this as a decision out of political compulsions since elections are due in Punjab, others are saying the government is weak. Deep within they know that their agenda has crestfallen and the anti-India anti-Modi narrative would not get traction with most people who are happy and have welcomed the move.
Modi has taken all the blame on himself and did not give any argument to criticise others. “Our intent was pure. But we could not convince some farmers. We tried our best to explain these laws to the farmers. We spoke, we discussed and we tried to convince them,” he said in his address to the nation early Friday morning. The most defining and deeper statement was “Whatever I did, I did for the farmers and whatever I am doing, I am doing for the country.”
It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Prime Minister’s action is like that of Lord Shiva who drank the poison that came out of the churning of the ocean intended to give amrit to society. The country is passing through a political churning process intended to make the country catch up with the lost time and gain its rightful place in the comity of nations. Vested interests including some political parties are out to derail that process since many political parties would close shutters if Modi Juggernaut continues.
Anti-India forces are scared of a strong India. They tried to push dubious funds using the NGO route to fund activities outside and inside to paint India in a bad light. They cannot digest the fact that a nation hurt by thousands of years of foreign rule is raising its head firmly and proudly. The narrative built by colonial powers is falling flat before the new facts that are emerging and challenging the old-held views.
Their single enemy is Modi who is rapidly gaining strength and making India strong. The Leftists and Islamists supported by Congress and other parties are trying to mount a combined attack to demolish him and finish the story once and for all. But they have underestimated Modi, the master craftsman who knows his people and also the chicanery of these political parties and the mechanisms adopted by vested interests.
So, the agitation against three farm legislations despite lacking facts and arguments got the support of vested interests nationally and internationally. It sought to disturb two prominent states – Punjab and Haryana. No argument or logic would work with a section of the farming community. Nothing sort of withdrawal of the legislation would work. The government had the option to force acceptance and eject the agitators from national highways and elsewhere the way the UPA government did with Baba Ramdev when it used police atrocity on innocent people including women in midnight in 2011.
Modi is a democrat and has never taken action against peaceful protestors whether anti-CAA protests that blocked major Delhi roads or the farmers’ agitation that blocked National Highway and created problems for commuters. He had organised protests against the Emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during 1975-77. He knows the character of his people and would not do anything to thwart this democratic process.
His apology to the nation that he could not make a section of farmers understand the merits of the farm legislations reflects his commitment to the nation and strength of character and not a weakness. It needs a high degree of spiritual power and the strength that it gives to take such a bold withdrawal decision. That he chose the Guru Nanak Jayanti to make his announcement shows his commitment and respect for the people of Punjab.
Guru Purab is the most auspicious day in Punjab and the importance of the decision was not lost on anyone who knows the state. Modi derived strength quoting from the Shabad (hymn) of Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, who started the Khalsa pant to defend Hindus and the country from invaders. “Deh Siva bar mohe eh-hey subh karman te kabhu na taro….” (Seeks the blessings of the Goddess that one may not hesitate from performing the good deeds). Modi said he had taken the decision on farm laws with honest intentions and now he was doing the same with a pure heart.
Although he did not speak these words, it was clear that he did not wish the nation to get divided on the issue that can endanger the social fabric and spread chaos. Punjab has suffered a lot. The 1980s have been recorded in history as the period of Khalistan movement in Punjab. Indira Gandhi created Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and when he went out of control and led the Khalistan movement, the entire country suffered. People cannot forget those painful years. In recent years, the state has witnessed the menace of drugs with a deleterious impact on youths. Vested interests had started using this movement to create an anti-India narrative abroad. The former chief minister of Punjab and an army veteran has spoken about the dangers that existed.
While taking the decision guided by pious consideration to improve agriculture, the government was right to assume that it would be able to persuade people to see reasons. Best attempts were made too. But if the intended section of intended beneficiaries is not ready to listen to reason, what should one do. The country would not gain if the farming community gets divided and the poison spreads. This is more so if such a situation has the potential to disturb the border state. There is no doubt that the agitation had hit the end of the road with no solution in sight. The situation could have gone haywire. What is the way out then? Allow vested interests to manipulate it or take the fizz out. Modi has done just that.
To say that this reflected a weak government is far from the truth. The Prime Minister who would not battle his eyelid in conducting two surgical strikes against Pakistan, who can order matching deployment on the India-China border to take care of all contingencies because of an ambitious neighbour and who has emerged as the most popular world leader needs better appreciation.
It is much easier when you know that you are dealing with your enemies. But in this case, they are our people even when there is a difference of perception. The Prime Minister has acted like an avuncular family man who wants to take everyone along. As family interest is first for father in the family, the interest of the country is topmost. No ego would be big enough to compromise the country’s interest.
Those who criticise the withdrawal decision as a political move to shore up the BJP’s chances at the elections in Punjab should recall that the BJP has not been a major force in the state. The BJP sacrificed its political roadmap of independent existence for the larger interest of the country’s unity. The BJP has always termed its alliance with the Akalis as a social unity move that has applied the balm and brought Hindus and Sikhs closer. The era of militancy had created fissures in these symbiotic relations.
Can the same party lie silent if a threat to this unity is being attempted by anti-BJP forces? Sikhs and Hindus have stayed as one always. Captain Amarinder Singh rightly pointed out that “Sikhs are staunchly patriotic who have fiercely fought the Mughals and the British to defend their motherland”. Sikhs play an important part in national life whether in terms of agriculture production or terms of participation in the fighting army.
Who knows the people of Punjab better than Modi who was the BJP’s in-charge for Punjab for many years? When the BJP’s alliance with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) was stitched in 1997 under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Modi was working silently to tighten the nuts and bolts of that. This explains his special commitment to the people of that state.
Those who rallied behind the farm legislations are angry that the much-needed reform has been derailed. But they know that reforms are a tedious process. In a society like ours, which is deeply emotional, it takes time to convince people. But this does not mean the other steps necessary to make agriculture more productive would not be taken.
The Prime Minister has already announced that a committee that would look into all aspects of farming such as Zero Budget agriculture (to encourage organic farming), scientific agriculture through changing cropping patterns, and to make the MSP more effective and transparent. This committee would have representations of the central government, the state governments, farmers, and experts. He said he was working with all sincerity and would continue to do so in the future too.
Since agriculture is a state subject, those state governments that calculate that the law would be helpful to farmers in their respective states can always draw from the suspended legislations and make their laws. For example, farmers in Madhya Pradesh have immensely benefitted according to media reports. It is for the state government to decide what is good for the people. In any case, the farm legislations were not being imposed and it was merely providing a parallel system to those who wanted to experiment.
The Prime Minister’s commitment to farmers is unmatched. Some of these are path-breaking such as a massive increase in agriculture spending in the annual budget, allocating Rs 1 lakh crore to boost agriculture infrastructure, facilitating setting up of 10,000 FPOs (Farmers Producer Organisations), and transferring Rs 1.62 lakh crore directly into accounts of more than 10 crore farmers as PM Kisan Samman Nidhi.
The Prime Minister’s action has always been governed by national interest. Nobody in the country doubts his sincerity and honesty. He has always believed that one can go wrong but one should have honest intentions. His move on farm legislations has made the task of the Congress and the Aam Admi Party (AAP) quite difficult.
People cannot forget Sidhu’s uncalled-for loyalty to Pakistan demonstrated in hugging General Qamar Javed Bajwa and calling Imran Khan, the Pakistani Prime Minister, as his elder brother. People of Punjab can also not forget the soft corner AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal has for Khalistani outfit Babbar Khalsa. In a less emotionally charged atmosphere, people of the state can now choose who is the best to govern the state.
The writer is the author of ‘Narendra Modi: the GameChanger’. A former journalist, he is a member of BJP’s media relations department and represents the party as spokesperson while participating in television debates. The views expressed are personal.