The three farm laws were finally repealed. This was revealed by the Prime Minister himself in his address to the country on the occasion of Gurpurab on Friday. Farmers, on the other hand, are still on the offensive, rather than applauding the move. They have declared six more demands unequivocally and held a massive Kisan Mahapanchayat in Lucknow. Farmers were anticipated to return to their homes satisfied and victorious after the announcement. Instead, a new discussion has erupted: did the Prime Minister make a mistake by giving in to their demands?
Perhaps a more important question is whether the statement has influenced events on the ground. Will it aid the BJP in quelling farmer rage, particularly in Uttar Pradesh? Will that help other parties claim Modi has admitted a major blunder? Will Amarinder Singh, the ex-Congress Chief Minister of Punjab, benefit from his early support for the farmers’ movement, or will Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, or AAP, benefit more? Remember that Kejriwal went to the protesting farmers and promised them that his government will help them in whatever way it could.
Kejriwal’s visit to Punjab just three days after Modi’s declaration should be read in this light. Instead of focusing on the repeal of farm regulations, he attempted to capture the imagination of the state’s women, like Nitish Kumar did in Bihar and as Priyanka Gandhi is doing in Uttar Pradesh. He launched the world’s largest ‘women allowance’ system, under which each woman over the age of 18 in each home will receive a monthly allowance of a thousand rupees, which will be instantly paid in their account if his party wins the government in Punjab. If his declaration is any indication, he is uncertain that his support for farmers would provide him with enough votes to win Punjab.
Kejriwal’s strategy may be predicated on the fact that, with the exception of the BJP, all political parties supported the farmers’ movement, therefore the revocation of the farm rules may benefit more than just AAP. Amarinder Singh not only backed the protest, but also visited with Home Minister Amit Shah to persuade him that farmer demands should be heeded because the disturbance was crucial for national security. Although Amarinder Singh quit the Congress, the party’s top leadership, including Rahul Gandhi, has always been sympathetic to the farmers’ plight. Charanjit Singh Channi, the new Chief Minister, has even demanded a memorial for the farmers who perished during the protests. He had also vowed to compensate the families of the farmers who had perished. As a result, Amarinder Singh’s departure will have little effect on the agitating farmers’ voting behaviour in favour of the Congress. In September 2020, the Akali Dal, which had previously backed the farm rules, left the Modi government and severed its partnership with the BJP. The party, however, will not benefit from the split, despite its clever alliance with Mayawati’s BSP, which has a strong representation among Dalit voters.
The Congress vote is likely to be split now that Amarinder Singh has formed his own party. The Congress also needs to deal with Navjot Singh Sindhu, the party’s state president, revolting. As a result, AAP should have been allowed to take the initiative. But, at least for the time being, this does not appear to be the case. The AAP was expected to comfortably win the 2017 Punjab election, but the state was won by the Congress. As the largest opposition party, AAP should have spent the last five years increasing its visibility and strengthening its basis, but its Punjab leaders spent that period bickering amongst themselves. Their top leaders in Punjab either fled or were forced to leave the party. As a result, the AAP was only able to win one of Punjab’s 13 Lok Sabha seats in 2019. It was then annihilated in local government elections 19 months later.
There is no disputing that after Delhi, AAP has acquired a considerable presence in Punjab. However, the party, in my opinion, must overcome the consequences of the following errors:
- I didn’t create an organisation.
- 2. Did not allow a Punjab unit commander to emerge.
- 3. It offered no apologies for the errors it committed in 2017.
- 4. Did not propose an alternative plan for the state’s development.
A fraction of the AAP’s Punjab leaders were accused of flirting with the province’s undesirable extreme groups. And, rather than the alternative paradigm that makes his party so enticing, Kejriwal appears to have reverted to traditional politics. So, let’s talk about the freebies. Kejriwal’s free energy and water schemes worked in Delhi because they were based on alternative politics’ moral ideals. When delivered through regular politics, these gimmicks lose their sting. This is the kind of opposition AAP could face in Punjab.
(Aryan Jakhar is a journalist who has worked with several news web-portals like BusinessUpturn and more and now Aryan Jakhar is serving as an editor-in-chief and founder of The Shining Media.)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of The Shining Media and The Shining Media does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
Aryan Jakhar works as an Editor-in-Chief at The Shining Media. Also, he is an editor at YouthPolitician (digital media situated in Taiwan). He writes his opinions on social issues at YouthKiAwaaz and also on his blogger website.