Don’t call our farmers names. So far, some news channel puppets were branding the agitating farmers, but now, unfortunately, Union ministers seem to be certain that the agitation has been hijacked by the ‘tukde-tukde’ gang, and separatist and anti-national forces. Undoubtedly, attempts are always made by our western neighbour and its spy agency to foment trouble through certain NRI elements stationed in the West, who are at times aided by opportunistic politicians blinkered by the diaspora vote bank. This time too, they might have tried their best, offering money and iPhones, unleashing a Twitter campaign or putting up some random posters. These are elements on the lookout for an opportunity to exploit disaffection among any stratum of our society and it is but natural for them to seek an opening. But they cannot and have not hijacked the farmers’ agitation. The test of the true intent and character of the protesters lies in the solution. All the farmers will happily return home if they are offered an honourable exit.
Instead, if they are tarred with the brush of separatism, it will stick longer than is desired. It is a dangerous ploy to corner those who are not even political opponents of the Union government. Most of them would hail Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a saviour, if their apprehensions are allayed. Farmers know what is best for them more than any bureaucrat or entrepreneur. They are worried because the promised investment in the farm sector should have ideally happened in Bihar or Uttar Pradesh, where there are no legal hurdles nor adequate procurement. Or else, innovations in cold chain and price assurance could have been introduced to save vegetable farmers. Our horticulture, pisciculture and poultry segments are not world class yet. Still, corporates are setting up silos in Punjab and Haryana, focusing on the well-oiled foodgrain business.
Paternalistic condescension and dirty tricks can only radicalise harmless protesters who celebrate the agitation as an idealistic pilgrimage for a common cause or a mela that they ought not to miss. There is nothing sinister in this festival of democracy.