Op/Ed: Permitting participation of politicians can prove detrimental for farmers’ agitation

NEW DELHI, India—After a long wait of almost more than half year, politicians have finally found an avenue to enter into farmers’ agitation against three unconstitutional farm laws pertaining to the procurement of farm produces. The politicians of Punjab have grabbed this opportunity at a time when the farmers’ agitation was about to face a crisis due to the ruthless attitude depicted by the Punjab based farmer unions about hoisting of Kesri flag at Lal Qila but Rakesh Tikait’s emotive stance succeeded in re-inculcating life in this movement.

Sukhbir Badal meeting Rakesh Tikait at Gazipur protest site on January 31, 2021

During the past two days, senior politicians of Punjab affiliated to Congress as well as Shiromani Akali Dal like Partap Singh Bajwa and Sukhbir Badal have succeeded in entering farmers’ agitation under the garb of extending support to Uttar Pradesh based farmer leader Rakesh Tikait.

It is pertinent to note here that the farmer leaders have been vigilantly maintaining a distance from the politicians since initiation of this struggle but the situation seems to be averting after January 26 incidents.

Congress leader Partap Bajwa at Gazipur border protest site headed by Rakesh Tikait

The entrance of politicians at farmers’ agitation sites is being seen from a different perspective. Some say the direct support of politicians to farmers’ agitation will prove beneficial in keeping this struggle alive and building up pressure on the Indian government while others say direct involvement of politicians in farmers’ agitation will help the Indian government in dubbing this agitation as a political agitation being fueled by the opposition parties.  

File Photo: Sikh Intellectual S. Baljit Singh Khalsa

Sikh intellectual Baljit Singh Khalsa, who is renowned for his analysis on various public and armed movements, endorses the direct participation of politicians in this struggle but only as a supporter.

Recalling Rakesh Tikait’s stance that politicians were welcome in farmers’ agitation but they won’t be allowed to enter into stage, Khalsa says that Tikait has taken a wise decision according to situation because a prolong distance from politicians could push farmers’ struggle towards isolation.

“If the politicians come only as supporters and sit among the farmers then the farmer leaders will also have a chance to question their double standards on farm laws, and thus forcing them to maintain a pro-farmers stand,” says Khalsa.

On the other hand, a particular section of farmers is unhappy over the opening of this avenue by Rakesh Tikait.

File Photo: Sikh activist Papalpreet Singh

Sikh activist Papalpreet Singh, a strong opponent of Punjab based farmer leaders who are left-leaning, says that the direct participation of politicians in farmers’ agitation will ultimately prove detrimental.

Commenting particularly on Sukhbir Badal’s visit at Gazipur protest site to meet Rakesh Tikait, he says that Sukhbir Badal was the one who gave assent to these laws in parliament along with his wife Harsimrat Badal but later they backtracked on observing that they have lose their political ground.  

“The ultimate goal of these politicians is keeping their politics up and politicians like Badals have an established record of betraying the Sikhs despite the fact that they were meant to defend the Sikh interests,” he remarks.

“In my opinion, the entrance of politicians in farmers’ agitation has more negative sides than the positive one,” he says.

To conclude, we can say that the entrance of politicians in farmers’ agitation will definitely help farmer leaders in reviving their struggle to a new level but it won’t come without any cost.

Permitting politicians for direct participation in this agitation won’t be less than a tough examination for the farmer leaders lying in a dilemma.