Farmers Protest: Vaccine

   Posted by: aman   in Other

Day 194

Toll 502+



Right from the beginning of the protests, I have remembered a comment by a senior editor whom I respect a lot. A few years back, the editor had said: (I summarize) ‘Modi has never ever rolled back a decision, neither as CM and nor as PM. To Modi, rolling back a decision is akin to defeat and he cannot see himself losing.’

Now this is common knowledge – one of those myths around his personality.

What played out yesterday at 5 pm in front of the nation, and at Tohana, and before that at Hisar, has changed punctured that myth. Clearly, Modi has reversed his policy to let states participate in procuring vaccines. He announced universal vaccination for all those above 18 years, all across the nation. This is his first U-turn in public life so do not get distracted by his elaborate 33-minute charade on TV.

His decision is being seen in the light of many CMs, including Kerala, Andhra, Odisha, Bengal, Tamil Nadu and others opposing the Centre’s earlier policy which was basically to make states compete with each other as gladiators did in ancient Rome. Open suggestions by Opposition challenging the government’s stupidity, showing the government the correct path. It is also pressure from the Supreme Court that asked how does the government account for the Rs 35K crore budget allocation for vaccines. There is an international angle: how after intense internal criticism over its untimely vaccine diplomacy, India has blocked vaccine export to some 91 counties. All those pressures are correct.

Universal free vaccination is the way to go for India, but now none of us have a real idea how long will it take to vaccinate whole of India. If Modi delivers vaccines as he delivered oxygen, ventilators, beds and rations and jobs, then we are still going to be stuck with wave after wave of the virus while the world moves on. Though ideally, if universal vaccination is done proactively, it should be like polio and small-pox. It could be door-to-door and there is no need for an App like CoWin. But for all of that, along with staff and other resources, we need a steady vaccine supply. Let us see when that happens.

The point we are looking at is: why has Modi cultivated this myth of inflexible style of ruling and what are now the implications of its cracking? Obviously, this hard style attracts the attention, praise, and votes of those who consider him Hindutva’s messiah. It is essential to project him as a strong leader – one who gets things done. Though we know where we have reached in the last seven years, Modi’s charmed followers remain so brain-washed that they continue to believe in his uber-macho projection.

With Modi changing his stance on vaccination, a crack has emerged in this projection. While on the one hand it illustrates his desperation, it is up to us to seize the opening, the crack, and tear it open into a chasm. Notice the criticism now rising in his own ranks, in BJP. Especially, in Uttar Pradesh and his relations with Yogi. Winning UP next year is critical to BJP coming into power in 2024.

See this also in light of how in the last few weeks, farmers have twice prevailed upon the BJP government in Haryana: once at Hisar, another time yesterday at Tohana. While Haryana is Khattar government, it has Modi’s blessings.

On the vaccine front, what happened yesterday is a result of success of state leaders and us raising our voice and courts finally finding their spine. On the farmers front, there is a huge message for the whole country: unite and you can prevail upon BJP. Do not hide behind the excuse of a weak opposition. The states did not do that. They trounced BJP in elections and now took a stand against it. The farmers did not do that. Resolutely they stand opposed to Modi’s Farm Laws. Basically, stop waiting for someone to come and fight for your rights. Each of us needs to do pick our issues and unite to fight the pandemic of Hindutva mal-governance.

Opposing Modi’s wrong decisions is just as hard or easy as what happened yesterday. Our courage is our vaccine.


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