Farmers win on many fronts, media fails on all



The repeal of the three farm laws came about not because the PM failed to ‘persuade’ some farmers, but because many farmers stood resolute, even as a craven media devalued their struggle and strength

What the media can never openly admit is that the largest peaceful democratic protest the world has seen in years – certainly the greatest organised at the height of the pandemic – has won a mighty victory.

A victory that carries forward a legacy. Farmers of all kinds, men and women – including from Adivasi and Dalit communities – played a crucial role in this country’s struggle for freedom. And in the 75th year of our Independence, the farmers at Delhi’s gates reiterated the spirit of that great struggle.

Prime Minister Modi has announced he is backing off and repealing the farm laws in the upcoming winter session of Parliament starting on the 29th of this month. He says he is doing so after failing to persuade ‘a section of farmers despite best efforts’.  Just a section, mind you, that he could not convince to accept that the three discredited farm laws were really good for them. Not a word on, or for, the over 600 farmers who have died in the course of this historic struggle. His failure, he makes it clear, is only in his skills of persuasion, in not getting that ‘section of farmers’ to see the light. No failure attaches to the laws themselves or to how his government rammed them through right in the middle of a pandemic.

Well, the Khalistanis, anti-nationals, bogus activists masquerading as farmers, have graduated to being ‘a section of farmers’ who declined to be persuaded by Mr. Modi’s chilling charms. Refused to be persuaded? What was the manner and method of persuasion? By denying them entry to the capital city to explain their grievances? By blocking them with trenches and barbed wire? By hitting them with water cannons? By converting their camps into little gulags? By having crony media vilify the farmers every day? By running them over with vehicles – allegedly owned by a union minister or his son? That’s this government’s idea of persuasion? If those were its ‘best efforts’ we’d hate to see its worst ones.

The Prime Minister made at least seven visits overseas this year alone (like the latest one for CoP26). But never once found the time to just drive down a few kilometres from his residence to visit tens of thousands of farmers at Delhi’s gates, whose agony touched so many people everywhere in the country. Would that not have been a genuine effort at persuasion?

From the first month of the present protests, I was barraged with questions from media and others about how long could they possibly hold out ? The farmers have answered that question. But they also know that this fantastic victory of theirs is a first step. That the repeal means getting the corporate foot off the cultivator’s neck for now – but a raft of other problems from MSP and procurement, to much larger issues of economic policies, still demand resolution.

The anchors on television tell us – as if it is a stunning revelation – that this backing off by the government must have something to do with the upcoming Assembly elections in five states next February.

The same media failed to tell you anything about the significance of the bypoll results in 29 Assembly and 3 Parliamentary constituencies announced on November 3. Read the editorials around that time – see what passed for analysis on television. They spoke of ruling parties usually winning bypolls, of some anger locally – and not just with the BJP and more such blah. Few editorials had a word to say about two factors influencing those poll results – the farmers’ protests and Covid-19 mismanagement.

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