Mumbai, March 12: Have you ever experienced hunger pangs? I mean the real ones, not greed for mouth-watering food. Most probably, those who are reading this piece are unlikely to have gone through such a harrowing experience. God forbid, nobody goes through such bad times that you don't even have enough money to buy food for your family. It is the same hunger that has forced at least 50,000 debt-ridden, poor farmers of Maharashtra to leave their homes and cover a distance of 180 kms on foot to tell the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state that their issues need immediate address.
The protesting farmers who are patiently waiting at Mumbai's Azad Maidan to get a response from chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday represent India's underbelly often eclipsed by shining malls and swanky corporate offices dotting our cities. When these poor farmers rise in revolt to demand their basic rights which include complete loan waiver, fair pay, implementation of the Swaminathan Committee report and transfer of Adivasi land to farmers, to name a few, a section of urban Indian crowd cries foul.
It is very easy for a person sitting in an air-conditioned office, sipping coffee from Starbucks and denouncing the agitation as "politically motivated" on social media.
The opponents of the protest have alleged that the farmers are "politically motivated" as they have been gathered together under one umbrella by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) which is affiliated to the Left.
According to the conspiracy theorists, who are going wild on social media, the farmers fight for justice in Maharashtra is the Left's revenge against the right (the ruling BJP), because the latter has demolished the former in the Tripura elections. If that is the case, then farmers' suicide too are politically motivated? Isn't it? According to the official figures, between 2015 and 2016, nearly 12,602 farmers have committed suicide in the country.
Is a farmer's suicide politically driven? Thus a farmer embraces death voluntarily because of some ideology? Or is it his failure to repay loans and never-ending poverty? What is wrong if an organisation affiliated to a particular political party is guiding the farmers? Aren't there farmers' associations affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) which is the ideological wing of the BJP? Did not CM Fadnavis promise a loan waiver of Rs 34,000 crore to farmers last year?
The answers lie in the questions itself. The conspiracy theorists themselves seem to be politically driven to save the BJP governments (both at the Centre and in the state) from embarrassment over the farmers' protest. Suggestions like "who is financing the farmers' protest?" to "one day middle class Indians would ask for loan waiver" on Twitter are simply to politicise the whole debate over the agrarian crisis in India.
#FarmersMarchToMumbai— ashok (@ashokpurandare) March 11, 2018
Wonder who's actually financing this farmers' march ...with their flags, caps, enroute food &water for 30000, the medical care , the massive organizational arrangements et al..? Voluntary contributions? That's a laugh. Any guesses?
#FarmersMarchToMumbai— Shivaji Shukla (@shivajishukla44) March 12, 2018
Why Loan waiver ? I think one day middle class salaried too should demand loan waiver ...housing, education, medical.
Are we becoming country of parasites ......reservation, loan waiver, subsidies....!!!
Instead of working towards a solution to farmers' woes in the country, a political debate has started over whether the protest is to weaken the Narendra Modi government ahead of the assembly elections in several states this year and the all-important General elections in 2019.
Sadly, till now PM Modi has remained silent over the protest which has got a good amount of media attention from across the world. BBC has covered the protest with the headline--Thousands of protesting India farmers converge on Mumbai. The New York Times has carried the story on protest with the headline--Thousands of Indian Farmers March to Mumbai Seeking Govt. Support. Other well-known international media houses too covered the event well. Unfortunately, in India, a section alleges that poor men's tragedy has got some political affiliation. If this is the popular sentiment, a day is not far away when all our farmers will kill themselves and we will be too poor to import food from outside. And, we make this statement with a heavy heart. Sigh!