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Friday, September 24, 2021

Chaudhary Birender Singh: ‘Farmers can stretch agitation indefinitely, time for Centre to sort the issue out amicably’

With the farmers protest completing nine months, Former Union Minister, Chaudhary Birender Singh tells how the farmers have the stamina to carry on this agitation for as long as it took for righting a wrong and why it was time for the government to resolve the issue amicably

Written by Sukhbir Siwach | Chandigarh |
Updated: August 27, 2021 12:14:07 am
Farmers Protest, former Union Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh, Sir Chhotu Ram, former Union Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh joins farmer protest, farm protests, indian express newsFormer Union Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh. (File)

Former Union Minister, Chaudhary Birender Singh, has been a stout supporter of the voices of farmers who have camped at the borders of Delhi to press for the repealing of three contentious farm laws. Seventy-five-year-old Singh, who is a BJP leader, has sat on dharnas in support of protesting farmers, which he terms as “everybody’s agitation”. With the agitation completing nine months, Birender Singh tells how the farmers have the stamina to carry on this agitation for as long as it took for righting a wrong and why it was time for the government to resolve the issue amicably

How can the agitation impact the image and prospects of the BJP?

Sometimes, I compare this agitation with the Sampoorna Kranti in which the dissatisfaction (among the masses) was consolidated under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan. That movement had started from Gujarat over some issue of students’ fees and later gained momentum to become massive. In Haryana too, Devi Lal had led an agitation over the issue of SYL canal water in which people had participated because of his leadership. Punjab and Haryana have dominated the farmers’ agitation, but it has had an impact across the country… The seeds (of agitation) have been sown and now have started growing across the country. If someone underestimates this agitation, then it’s a misconception. There is no other way to resolve it other than dialogue. If dialogue doesn’t happen, then the government will face political losses while the farmers face economic losses. And both things are not in the interest of the country. About three legislations…a perception has developed in the mind of a farmer that they are going to lose their land. The farmers of Punjab, Haryana, and Western UP can drag this agitation perpetually because they have the stamina and resources, like tractor-trolleys and motorcycles. A farmer considers his land as his mother. Small farmers are more threatened about losing their land.

What is the experience of the past?

When the industrial revolution had taken place in Europe, particularly in England, nearly 300 years ago, there was no labour amid a boom for industries there. Legislation was brought in there that the land will not be in small chunks of 5 -10 acres but in 5,000-15,000 acres for agricultural purposes. Then, the small farmer had gone out (from the game). The farmer was forced to seek jobs from the industries. This was a move aimed at taking them (the farmers) to industries. However, in our country, there is no shortage of labour. At one stage the agriculture sector’s contribution was 51 per cent in our country’s GDP which has now gone down to less than 14 per cent. On the other hand, the involvement of hands in agriculture has gone down from previous 82 per cent to 62 per cent.

What do you feel about the caste-based census?

See, the clever people, who hijack the system, will never come out with caste figures. There is a game of majority in parliamentary democracy. Some of the castes may have some representation in our system and may not even be aware of the level of their importance in the political system. But, if the figures of the caste census come out, then these people suddenly will figure out that they are a force to reckon with. However, a few people in our country like to keep power in their hands. These people will never allow caste-based census data to come out as it may pose a challenge to their authority.

What is the future of politics in the country in the near future?

Within the next 13 months, elections will be held in ten states. These elections will explain the scene of what kind of parliamentary democracy we want in this country. This would be an important phase in the country’s independence of 75 years.

What may be the possible equations?

The game of majority in votes- 49/51-, is no longer going to be the norm. Any party which wants to rule will have to ensure that take people along from all walks of society. This sentiment has already started emerging. The BJP is a cadre-based party. They say our workers are more important. But when the workers are asked, they say ‘we may be important for the programme, but ultimately we should be participants too’. If that participation happens, it will mean that the BJP is taking the masses along. The party workers hold the key. Also, proper branding of Congress’ old slogans are not happening. If proper branding doesn’t take place, then the people will slowly realise that the Congress is not in a position to remain as a pan India party. As of now, the national parties have enough time to decide how they want to move forward.

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