CALLING FOR “sensitivity” while dealing with the farmers’ agitation over the new farm laws, RSS Sarkaryawah (general secretary) Suresh (Bhaiyyaji) Joshi has said that a “middle ground must be found and both sides must work to find a solution”.
In an interview to The Indian Express, Joshi emphasised that “it is not good for the health of society for any agitation to run for too long”. “We just want the agitation (to) end quickly now,” he said.
The statements, from the No. 2 of the ruling party’s parental organisation, assume significance at a time when the government is trying to find a way out of the stalemate.
“Democracy provides an opportunity to both sides. I consider both sides right (in) their place. Agitators must consider that whatever they can get through dialogue, they must accept. The government must think about what more it can give. Agitations run, and they end as well. So a movement must consider the space it has, and the government should be mindful of its own,” Joshi said.
“So it is important to find that point where the two sides can agree and the agitation can end. Any agitation running for long is not beneficial. No one should have a problem with an agitation taking place. But a middle ground must be found. An agitation does not just affect people associated with it, but also impacts society, directly or indirectly. It is not good for the health of society for any agitation to run for too long. So a middle ground must be found and both sides must work to find a solution,” he said.
“Whenever a discussion is held, there can’t be an argument that my position is non-negotiable…The government is repeatedly saying we are ready to discuss, but (the protesters) are saying any discussion will take place only after the laws are repealed. How will a discussion take place like that,” he said.
“I believe farmers must have a discussion with the government over issues they have with the laws… There should be a positive initiative from both sides. If agitators also take a positive approach it will be good,” he said.
Asked what more the government could do to resolve the issue, he said: “It is for the government to think. But if there are any more such issues which need resolution, the government must do it… I believe this matter should be resolved on the basis of sensitivity…. But I don’t think in any country a law like this is repealed… If there are any positive suggestions, the government must consider. We just want the agitation (to) end quickly now.”
Joshi said there was an attempt to give a sectarian twist to the agitation. “There is, perhaps, an effort to give the agitation a panthic (sectarian) colour. I believe pushing the agitation towards a panthic (sectarian) movement is not good,” he said.
When it was pointed out that many associated or aligned with the government had called the protesters “Khalistanis” and “Maoists”, Joshi said: “Some people may be saying this but the government has not said this. All I will say is that a rigidity has crept into the whole issue. Who are the people behind this, must be investigated. Are there such elements who do not want a resolution to come through? This should be probed.”
He said the farmers’ protest was “not getting any support from the rest of the country”. “At many places, such as Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, farmers are also speaking in favour of the laws. Even from among the agitating farmers, there are people in support. So there are two views within the movement,” he said.
Asked about the misuse of the recent anti-conversion laws in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, Joshi said: “Whenever such laws are brought, some problems arise. I won’t call it misuse, but one has to struggle to prove one’s innocence. What happens in (SC/ST) Atrocity Act? I am not saying it is being misused. But then the case drags on and later it is proven that it is not true. Till then both sides suffer. Whenever any law is brought, its implementation will cause some difficulties, which some innocent people will also have to bear.”
He, however, said such laws were necessary as people were being converted through “allurement” or “falsehood”.
On the recent incidents of violence in Madhya Pradesh during the donation campaign for the construction of Ram Temple, Joshi said: “VHP is not doing this (violence). When a crowd gathers, some violent elements also creep in. I understand this gives us a bad name. So the organisation is working on keeping the movement safe from such elements. Whatever happened was not right.”
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