Nothing is gained any longer from weighing the rights and wrongs of the farm laws; it is time for a breakthrough. The losses to Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and private and government enterprises like the railways are mounting day by painful day. Punjab Government officials claim that the state could have incurred a loss of Rs 4,500 crore during the ongoing agitation. The loss of lives (60, according to certain accounts) among the agitators in the coldest months of this particularly harsh winter; the three who have committed suicide; and those elderly who brave the elements are all pointers to the human suffering involved in the agitation. Equally miserable are those whose lives and livelihoods have been disrupted due to the blockade. Thursday’s tractor march on the Kundli- Manesar-Palwal Expressway forewarnsof Delhi being cut off from Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, parts of Himachal Pradesh and western Uttar Pradesh. This is a crisis and the government is badly mistaken if it plans to wear the farmers out. That is no plan.
The meeting of Baba Lakha Singh of Nanaksar Gurdwara with Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar is a welcome move. The Baba says he has been serving the protesters langar at the Delhi border and knew the fellow priest from Karnal of the Nanaksar sect, who took his life to express solidarity with the farmers. The BJP’s Kisan Morcha seeking out the Akal Takht Jathedar, its religious symbolism notwithstanding, is a promising signal because the Centre ought to pause and let the state governments decide whether they want to notify the farm laws and implement them. Agriculture is a state subject and it should remain so. The Centre has a responsibility to give direction and to push the nation towards prosperity by framing model laws on state subjects; but then it should leave it to the people, particularly the state governments, to accept, modify or even reject the proposals.
A well-intentioned proposal will surely get the people’s acceptance in due course of time. Meanwhile, good governance is all about finding solutions, however intractable the situation is. Let there be governance.