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Farmers' R-Day rally: Was l'affaire Red Fort handiwork of a BJP-sponsored fifth column?

By Shantanu Basu*

The Red Fort 'assault' seems to be a premeditated one... Forty unions not part of Sanyukt Kisaan Morcha (SMK) refuse to follow the agreed pathways for the rally and say they would have their own rally. Next a BJP goon, with numerous pics with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah on the Internet, arrives and makes an inflammatory speech at one of the venues, suggesting that farmers had militant links and were acting at the latter's behest.
The renegade faction (read Fifth Column sponsored by BJP) this morning starts its parallel rally at 8 am, instead of at noon as agreed with the police and SKM. They reach the Red Fort easily and are in place for the 'assault' at 2:30 pm. En route this parallel rally 'encounters' buses and other vehicles to destroy while media cameras telecast wanton destruction of 'public property' by non-existent SKM rallyists. In the meantime, the paid media interviews leaders from this renegade faction while specifically asking why SKM leaders were untraceable.
The SKM rally did not start till noon and followed the agreed routes in a peaceful and orderly manner that was not deliberately covered by the mainstream media. The SKM rally was seen off by fellow farmers showering flowers on the see-off, something that was not recorded by the media for the renegade rally.
The renegade rally toppled police barricades, and destroying 'public property', moved to the heavily-guarded Red Fort by 2:30 pm that was not possible for SKM rallyists, who were not allowed into Delhi before noon and would have taken much longer to assemble at the Red Fort. The path for the 'assault' by renegades was thus clear.
Hordes just stream in while Deep Singh (or Sidhu, mentioned above) hoists religious Sikh flags (not Khalistani flag as BJP has publicized) on the minarets and the pole reserved for hoisting the national flag but does not touch the national flag on top of the fort. The impression sought to be created is that the SKM was no more than a front for the Khalistani movement.
The choice of the Red Fort is interesting for its historical claim to being the seat of authority of the Mughals, and by implication, and then Government of India (GoI). In other words, Khalistanis were challenging the authority of the GoI for an illegitimate cause and deserved to face police brutality for treasonable activity. Needless to add, the SKM rally disappeared from media screens while all attention was riveted on the Red Fort and religious banners atop the Fort.
While all this was on, GoI cut Internet and phone links in areas from where the SKM rally was to originate. That leaves SKM leaders incommunicado while mainstream media says they are untraceable. This cut also impacts video circulation of similar rallies and protests by farmers across India. Again, the MSM does not cover similar events outside Delhi so viewers remain cut off from fast-moving events in Delhi.
Access to the Red Fort was easier than going out for an evening walk. And that was possible only if GoI agencies planned it at the Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA's) insistence. The speed at which Internet and voice calls were cut off on Delhi's borders with Haryana and UP shows GoI had planned this well in advance. The Red Fort was always a prime venue for rallyists, but 15 companies (1,500 men at arms) of heavily-armed and trained Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) inducted from outside Delhi were hardly visible on the approaches to the Fort.
Having traced the chronology of events above, I watched Yogendra Yadav sounding pitifully apologetic about the turn of events. I was surprised that neither he nor the leaders of over 400 unions affiliated to SKM anticipated the above course of action by an increasingly desperate Modi Sarkar. There was no reason for Yadav to sound apologetic for the actions of a renegade section that was not even part of SKM. 
Neither Yogendra Yadav nor leaders of over 400 unions affiliated to Sanyukt Kisan Morcha anticipated the course of action by an increasingly desperate Modi Sarkar
By the evening, the Farmers' IT Cell was effectively putting out facts, that too creditably without any abuse or vitriol, while its global supporters and common people circulated them at a speed, light years beyond the BJP's IT Cell to react. 
Lowlifes from the BJP that dotted TV panel debates on all mainstream media channels at prime time, spewed venom, just the way they had called all farmers Khailstanis several weeks back, for there was no other face-saver for their Supreme Leader. The narrative spun by the BJP too is coming apart at the seams as the farmers' counter narrative spun out facts that incriminated the BJP's topmost leadership.
Deep Singh (Sidhu) with Modi, Sunny Deol; at Red Fort (right)
At the same time, it is imperative that the GoI should move for a joint session of Parliament on February 2 to seek suspension of the three farm Acts and refer them to a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC, with public hearings built-in) for re-examination of their constitutionality and functionality. Re-introduction of these Acts for revival must be made again in a joint sitting of Parliament and after considering the report of the JPC that must be passed with a vote of three-fourths of all members.
The JPC should coopt agriculture ministers of all major agrarian states as ex-officio members. The jurisdiction of the JPC must be widened to fix base prices for all crops across India, reducing Minimum Support Price (MSP) progressively and eliminating it by 2031 in tandem with incentives for crop diversification and rural alternative employment generation, protected contract farming, withdrawal of energy and other subsidies, etc.
Had these measures been taken in advance, this resistance would not have erupted, even with the constitutionality of these Acts poaching into the State List. For their part, farmers should withdraw their agitation. It will be harvest time in another two months. The farmers need to return to their fields. Educational institutes will reopen and their kids would have to return to school. No useful purpose is being served by this show of strength, smearing muck and pinning the tail on the donkey games, aside from the tremendous human cost upon the farmers.
For his part, and beard, Modi needs to stand up as the Sage Prime Minister he pretends to be and call a halt to his rabble brigade and deputy and restore Parliament's vanished prestige. If Goods and Services Tax (GST) could merit a midnight joint session of Parliament, these farm Acts carry much higher merit for identical treatment for immediate suspension. 
If he fails yet again, the Red Fort may well move into Raisina Hill in less than six months. And Modi will have none to blame barring himself. The country has seen through his party's filth today and the narrative stands squarely against his government, the severest indictment so far.
Meanwhile, the foreign media is reporting on this debacle extensively. After the Delhi riots a year back, this is ominous for Modi Sarkar and for India's global reputation that now is in imminent danger of being recognized as a banana republic. Modi must realize that farmers are the base for our manufacturing and services sector too; farmers are not aliens, they are as much Indian citizens as he is.
It is therefore high time that Modi takes out the brainless wonders that densely populate his party and government that cloud his perception and tailor it to his strong likes and dislikes. It is also good for Modi to remember that Punjab is a state with a strong militant past. How much deeper will India sink into this shit-hole?
---
*Senior policy analyst, former official of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. Source: Author’s Facebook timeline

Comments

Anonymous said…
Thanks for chronicling the day's events in making your point!

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