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Farmers' protest, citizenship agitation and democratic aspirations

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Farmers protest, citizenship agitation and democratic aspirations
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Farmers protest in Delhi, for representational purpose ( File photo)

The farmer protest centred in the national capital has become a phenomenon that has upset the imagination of the ruling front and the Opposition alike. The government and BJP probably had not anticipated such a popular and spirited people's upsurge. It has been the pattern of BJP to believe and make others believe - and brand as anti-national those who don't agree - that the country has been making leaps of progress each day under the unassailable leadership of Narendra Modi.

While sitting cosy is such a complacent posture, the BJP had not expected such an agitation originating at the grassroots. The regime was sitting in arrogance that it could get through any legislation on the back of the brute electoral majority it enjoyed. The anti-CAA protests were the first jolt to that arrogance. That piece of legislation was passed clearly aiming at making Muslims either half-citizens or illegal residents. But even in parliament the secular opposition could not put up a defence against it. The BJP had been enjoying the over confidence that it could pass any law targeting Muslims with ease.

The BJP and their media had advanced several legs in creating a collective conscience which does not allow one to speak for the Muslim cause. In such a situation, it was widely believed that the citizenship law and the following NRC laws could be passed easily. However, such a gaucheness was met with severe blow from the students of Jamia Millia and Aligarh universities.

The protest lit by the students soon flared up from university to university and from street to street. At several fronts, the protest was described as the largest public movement that the country has ever witnessed since the Independence. It's ripples were reverberated at international forums too. The BJP and the government did not spare any vile means to curb the protest by imposing terrorist label, staging street riots, arresting student leaders, suppressing the protests using the police force and even letting loose the party hooligans wielded with guns against the protesters.

However, the protest was advancing day by day. Shaheen Bagh drew the attention of international community. Using the label of terrorism was easy as the protest was led by Muslims. Almost all of the opposition parties are scary of such branding even before the government had attempted to do so. Even in such a precarious situation, the Muslim youth could keep up the flame of the protest unabated. They also succeeded in drawing the opposition parties, into the line of the protest, who understood there were less options left. It is worth mentioning that the citizenship protest took an interval only when the Covid 19 pandemic shut down the country.

The farmers protest is the second Tsunami after the citizenship protest which dealt a blow for the ruling front and the opposition alike. The farm unions have themselves come forward to oppose the unilaterally passed laws, when the Opposition comprising the Congress and the Left parties failed to raise a constructive protest, and have dominated the streets.

It is true that the opposition parties have come forward to stand with and support the protests. However the role of these parties in forming the protest is a big zero. The idea put forward by the citizenship protest and the farmers protest is very important: our streets are not designed at the party offices. These two protests underscore the fact that the ruling front and the Opposition cannot move ahead without paying attention to the real life issues of the people.

Also, these protests re-assert that democracy cannot be inert only because the Opposition has gone blunt. Both these protests want the government to drop the insane belief that they can go to any extent relying on the technical majority in the parliament. The streets tell the Opposition that the people cannot wait for their committees and deliberations. Here it is evident that when the Opposition fails, the real opposition is rising from the fields, industries and the varsities to stand up. Democracy's future is inherent in this organic protests; not in the new parliament complex being built squandering several hundred crores.

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