Farmer s’ unions have been asking the government if there is no need to consult them before making farm laws that acutely affect them. The Opposition parties demand to know why there was no debate in Parliament and why the Bills were not referred to Parliamentary Standing Committee as insisted by them. Why were they rushed through, the opposition parties ask.
′′Idea of agricultural reforms has been in public domain for almost 20 years. MS Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations were gathering dust for more than 16 years. UPA government had earlier promised to bring agricultural reforms. Congress keeps mentioning about agricultural reforms in every election manifesto. Then how can the farmers’ unions and opposition parties say that the laws were suddenly brought without consulting them?′′ counter the leaders of the ruling party.Prime Minister Narendra Modi also repeated the same argument in the Rajya Sabha on Monday.
Listening to the government’s argument, one is reminded of stories of formula movies. A family has a brother and a sister. After wedding, a son was born to the sister and a daughter to her brother. Soon after their birth, they brother and sister decide that the children would become man and wife on growing up. It quite usual in Indian families. The two children grow up with the impression that they would be husband and wife. Twenty or twenty five years later, the parents develop different ideas. There may be changes in their fortunes. The brother and sister may not be on best of terms. They try to marry their children to others. Then the children will enact the scenes of Maya Bazar where Shashirekha, daughter of Balarama who promised his sister Subhadra that his daughter would be given in marriage to her son Abhimanyu. While Abhimanyu and Shashirekha were growing Pandavas’ fortunes undergo a lot changes and they lose their kingdom and go to forests. Balarama goes back on his promise and tries to get her daughter married to Lakshmana Kumara, son of his favourite disciple Duryodhana. But Lord Krishna intervens as is his wont and manages to get Shashirekha and Abhimanyu married in an absorbing drama.
Sometimes this formula story can take a different turn. After a boy goes to college, he may fall in love with another girl. Even the girl, who was supposed to marry the boy, might love another boy in college. The elders at home want to marry both of them since they decided it twenty or twenty five years ago. When the boy and the girl were struggling to find a way to inform their parents about their separate love affairs, the parents ‘suddenly’ tell them that they have set auspicious time for their wedding. And that sparks a conflict between parents and children. Children ask how they make such an important decision about their wedding without even consulting them. The parents counter the boy and the girl saying that it was decided long ago and everyone is aware of it. This story may end in any manner. But the fact that so many years had gone by between the decision taken by parents at the time of birth and its implementation has to be taken note of.
The government, which was talking about the farm reforms being discussed for twenty years are playing the role of parents in a formula movie. Just as Agnihotravadhanulu in famour writer Gurajada Venkata Appa Rao’s novel, Kanyasulkam, says “Taamboolalichaam,,Tannuku Chavandi” (We have exchanged wedding cards, you have to get married whether you like or not), the government has been saying that the laws were made and we have to follow them. Agricultural reforms may have been debated upon for a long time. Political parties may have included them in their election manifestos. But they may have changed their views in the course of time and may have thought of different kind of reforms. Just like the children in the formula movie, the political parties also may have developed different ideas about the reforms. Just because there was discussion, the government cannot bring forth its own idea of reforms and force on the other political parties and the farmers of the country. The comparison of the government to the parents in the formula movie and the opposition parties to the children is so apt that the children should ultimately have their way. The government cannot conduct surgical strike, a word in vogue in the country for some years, on its own people, particularly the farmers who produce succor.
Since the surgical strike was against its own people, the government’s move is getting boomeranged. Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have already recognized the need to take back the laws. But, his own image and that of the government are coming in the way of withdrawing the laws. Instead of completely undoing the laws and appearing to have lost the battle, the PM would like to keep the laws on the back burner for one or two years. But the farmers would not listen.
Democracy makes it mandatory for the governments to consult the opposition and the people every time a big decision is taken. People should not be made to be silent spectators. They should be engaged in decision making process. It is not that the people should keep quiet for five years after voting.
Finally what is happening now? Blaming Pakisthanis or Moists or Khalistanis will take the government nowhere. People stopped believing government’s claims long ago. Former prime minister Indira Gandhi used to talk about ‘foreign hand’ frequently before imposing Emergency on the country. Modi is following the same line. One never knows what happens next.
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