After the Farmers Protest: Cynicism

   Posted by: aman   in Punjab

I posted this after 19 Panjab unions out of 32 decided to form a political party to contest upcoming state elections in early 2022.


In the preface of my book PANJAB, having looked at the multiple, structural, systematic betrayals of the people in the land, I asked: where is that organ in the human body where trust is located?

Ever since the Farmers Protest started, I have been pained how urban middle class, rest of India, later panthic groups, stayed away from the struggle. When many critiqued the Samyukt Kisan Morcha from past experience with individual leaders, I listened to them carefully and hoped they would be willing to give a new union body a chance. It was always edgy. If the SKM had not won the protest, if the protest had cracked, the critics could have been proved right.

I have said it earlier too, and repeating it here: as weeks changed to months, it was clear the protest was cadre-led, not a leader-led. For those of us who knew internal parleys, we would often hold our heads in our hands on the behaviour of individual SKM members. It is the cadre, through their resolve, that kept the SKM together. That is why, to me the protest was a people’s movement and that was its greatest gain – a model other marginal and struggling communities can adopt. That, to me, was a victory of democracy.

In private conversations, right from the beginning of the protest, I told many folks who asked, that I do not trust three people in the protest. One was Yadav (we have spoken earlier about him), another was Rajewal, and the third will be named when it is time. This is Rajewal’s time.

Last evening, it was clear that while there are less than 20 days to the meeting with the government on Minimum Support Price, SKM has split vertically. 22 out of 32 unions want to contest elections. They have formed a new party Samyukt Samaj Morcha. They could fight Panjab elections in alliance with AAP.

This post is not about why farmer union leaders should take on a political role, or about whether they will win, or how they will change the nature of politics. When one leader – Charuni – wanted to enter politics, my view was this is not a good idea but it is his call. But a vertical split when a major intervention is pending? When Agriculture Minister Tomar yesterday said, government has taken one step back on Farm Laws but will come up with new laws after assembly elections?

This post is about why people become cynical. People become cynical when their leaders, ignoring the people’s power, betray their trust, and start seeking personal mileage. Had it not been for the farmers protest, all these leaders would have been just known in their blocks and districts. My hunch is, like AAP came out of a people’s movement, but succumbed to the neo-liberal and communal framework, the new party, SSM will also meet the same fate. That is because, unlike SKM did during protests, the SSM is not setting up its battlefield but is entering an old turf. Traditional parties will make mincemeat out of them.

But before we get there, even if we do not consider the humongous, year long effort to put up the protests, will Rajewal or any of his partners answer this question: did 727 people die in protests so you could take personal mileage out of it?

The answer to this question does not depend on what happens next. It depends on the moral framework of these leaders who want to contest elections. We know there will be no answers.

I still do not know which is the organ where trust resides, but I certainly know how cynicism creeps in. It does when leaders forget they won because of the cadre and become ambulance chasers.

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 2nd, 2022 at 7:29 am and is filed under Punjab. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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