The shameful returntext_fields
In his book 'India After Gandhi', historian Ramachandra Guha narrates the story of a public meeting in March 1953 attended by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of Burma U Nu and Indira Gandhi in Kohima, the present-day capital of Nagaland. It was during the struggle for the state of Nagaland. As Nehru began to speak at the public meeting, the crowd turned around, raised their clothes and showing their backs to the PM, walked out. It was in protest to Nehru's unwillingness to meet the Naga rebels and accept their pleas. The incident was recorded in history as the most striking of popular protests faced by Indian Prime Ministers.
Ferozepur in Punjab on Wednesday witnessed perhaps the strongest outrage an Indian Prime Minister has faced since then. It is indeed a matter of great shame that a Prime Minister who is ruling like an autocrat had to return without being able to attend a public meeting in a state of his own country.
Everyone knows that the protests against Narendra Modi in Punjab did not erupt unexpectedly. Farmers in areas including Punjab have been protesting since the three farm bills were passed unilaterally without consulting or negotiating with them. The country then witnessed a year-long historic farmers' protest. The Union Government used every available means means with all possible strength to suppress and weaken the protest. But there was no other option but to surrender. The Prime Minister himself appeared on television and publicly announced the withdrawal of the bills. It conveyed the message that any dictator would one day have to surrender in the face of popular struggles. It was also a heavy blow to the Modi-Amit Shah duo.
About 700 farmers lost their lives during the year-long protest. Recently, a report in this regard angered the farmers again. Former BJP leader and Meghalaya governor Satyapal Malik has released details of his meeting with Modi during the farmers' protest. When asked about the number of people dying, Modi retorted asking if they died for him, Satyapal Singh said. Modi then treated Malik with extreme arrogance and contempt. There was a lot of anger among the farmers towards Modi when this news came out, the expression of which was witnessed at the roadblock on Wednesday. Modi was scheduled to land at Bathinda Airport and fly to Ferozepur by helicopter. However, the road was chosen against flight due to adverse weather conditions. Modi then had to stop on a flyover on his way to the yoga venue in Ferozepur for on the other side of the flyover, where a large crowd gathered in protest. The roadblock was in continuation of the 'Go Back Modi' campaign happening across Punjab for the last few days.
The BJP is trying to exploit this disruption in Modi's plans politically. They have launched an emotional campaign saying that the Punjab government has not given any consideration to the security of the Prime Minister. The Congress claims that Modi went back because of the low turnout at the event. The reality is that the Prime Minister had to go back in shame, be it because of the small number of people or the people's protest.
In Kazakhstan, the president's cabinet was forced to resign on Wednesday in the wake of popular protests against rising petrol prices. All this sends the message that no dictator can stand in the face of popular uprisings. Despite this, the BJP is confident that any popular outrage and anti-people stance can be overcome by communalism. The Sangh Parivar has succeeded in changing the Hindu consciousness in north India to such an extent. They will continue to try to quell popular protests by inciting anti-Muslim hate and ultra-nationalism. The time is coming when proponents of democracy will have to be more careful.