Delhi Farmers’ agitation across three frontiers in Delhi is entering its fourth month. A month has passed since they had a failed conversation with the government. How long will this stalemate last?
Did the farmers want to adopt ‘Bharat Bandh’ and ‘Rail Roko Andolan’ to put pressure on Delhi for resuming the dialogue? However, the ‘Bharat Bandh’ or ‘Rail Roko’ attempts at the All India level were not successful. Has this concern not once again proved that it is only the farmers of some northern Indian states? It is true that similar anger can be seen between the sons of Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Maharashtra, but they have not yet taken to the streets. On the other hand, the Ghazipur, Singh and Tikri borders also saw a decline in strength. Does this mean that the three months of nonviolent and exclusive movement are losing its steam? It will be too early to reach this decision.
The main reason for saying this is that among the Mahapanchayats assembling in different parts of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Haryana, the congestion is increasing. Politicians from various parties are also going there on this occasion. While this war of the peasants has not broken new ground in other states, can it now be assumed that at the same time the anxiety is spreading and strengthening in the rest of the six states?
Season Farmers ’leaders said the number has decreased due to the wedding season and the busy schedule of rabi crop in the fields on the sit-ins sites on the three borders in Delhi. Now they are doing it, one batch of agitators is leaving, another is in its place. They stated that they were ready for a long battle. Rakesh Tikait said that farmers across the country were dissatisfied with their plight and that big farmer rallies were taking place in other states and I was getting the opportunity to participate in these as well. Is a dharna like Delhi Delhi likely to be seen in a few more states now?
Only the future will answer this question, but the results of the municipal elections in Punjab have given a new twist to the whole problem. On Wednesday, the Congress won an unprecedented victory and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which split from the Akalis earlier this year, came in fourth. To understand how terrible this success is, let’s look at these statistics. Out of the total 2,165 wards of the Municipal Council and the Municipal Corporation, only 1,484 were won by the Congress, 294 by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), 57 by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and 47 by the BJP. Congress won 68.5%. Wards, SAD won 13.5%, AAP 2.6% and BJP 2.1%. While the Congress succeeded in taking over the Bathinda Municipal Corporation after 53 years, the BJP also lost its strongholds. These results force the app to introspect.
Has the civil election started writing the script for next year’s assembly elections? It is too early to say so. The Congress won here in 2017, but the results of the 2015 civil elections were largely in favor of the SAD-BJP alliance. Politics is a game of inequality and opportunity, no one knows when the wind will blow! Those singing the farewell songs to the BJP after the results said that elections to local bodies in Kerala were also held in December 2020, when the ruling Left Front defeated the Congress-led front there.
However, there is a big difference between Kerala and Punjab. As in North India, there are no peasant concerns and the BJP is nowhere in the struggle. Rajasthan is another example of the political impact of peasant agitation. The Congress won the civil elections last month. Most of the farmers in this state are concerned.
The next test of its effectiveness will be in Uttar Pradesh. Panchayat elections in Uttar Pradesh will be held by April 30 as per the High Court orders. Assembly elections are also only a few months away. Western UP has become a center of farmer discontent. Rakesh Tikait also belongs to this part of the state and since the time of his late father, there has been a long tradition of farmers ’concern.
On Wednesday, as the results of the local body elections in Punjab are being announced, a meeting of important BJP leaders from western UP is taking place with Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan in Delhi. BJP leaders decided to go there to talk to farmers and other community leaders to explain the benefits of the new agricultural laws, but their path was not easy.
When Balyan met these leaders at a grand panchayat in New Delhi, Muzaffarnagar, western Uttar Pradesh, Naresh Tikait, president of the Indian Kisan Union, called for a social boycott of the ruling party leaders. He also told them not to extend the wedding invitation. It is safe to say that the ‘Muzaffarnagar model’ of the BJP, which once won in 2014, is under threat. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati have also started trying their bets. AAP is also looking at an opportunity of its own in Uttar Pradesh.
Is this the political end of a social movement that once began for some economic reason?
Shashi Shekhar Hindustan Editor-in-Chief. The views expressed are personal