It may not have been a case of flattering to deceive, yet the agitation by farmers in the northern part of the country, which fizzled out at Kisan Ghat on Wednesday, did not yield the bumper crop they had expected ~ which generally holds true of similar agitations in different parts of the country in recent months.
Is that because the farm sector is not in as dire straits as the Opposition projects, or that Anna Hazare, Naresh Tikait, etc are unable to stir up rural emotions as did Chaudhary Charan Singh or the senior Tikait? Or it could be that farmers have become immune to politicians’ promises that seldom materialise? It used to be said that India’s heart beats in its farmlands, that no longer holds true.
And it would be rather unrealistic to lay the blame entirely at the BJP’s doorstep: other parties have also been indifferent, hypocritical. Sure that when the police uses force (excessive force?) to break up farmers’ protest there is a hue and cry, but the Opposition subsequently fights shy of addressing the core causes of rural distress.
In terms of sheer numbers the rural vote does count, but politicians seem to believe that it is easier to garner electoral majorities by the divisive polarisation that is easier to secure in an urban ambience ~ the “rustics” are not so easily swayed by those pitting folk against each other on the basis of caste and creed.
Some three decades back Mahendra Singh Tikait had rattled the government, and the people of Delhi, when thousands of his supporters colonised the lawns of the Central Vista till the government buckled. There were apprehensions of a repeat performance a few days back when the Kisan Kranti Yatra set out from Haridwar and its numbers swelled with farmers from other states adjoining the Capital joining in.
The Delhi Police, possibly under instructions tried to block the procession on the UP-Delhi border: but its once-famed capacity to handle large crowds crumbled when some of the farmers (estimates of the gathering range from 25,000 to 70,000) turned violent ~ after all Delhi was the National Capital and nobody has monopoly rights ~ and received considerable political backing.
The barriers were moved, the tractor-trolleys rolled on to Kisan Ghat. But was a couple of hours there adequate reward for their trouble? The announcement of new MSPs for Rabi crops may have been accelerated by the agitation, but was on much the same lines as the hike for Kharif crops. As for the other demands, the government has promised to examine them sympathetically ~ a routine assurance.
Whatever Tikait may claim, the government has hardly moved an inch forward, and the farmers were keen to get their fields ready for Rabi sowing. Maybe the threat to teach the government a lesson will be converted into action next year: polling will take place after the winter crop is harvested.