I’m just a phone call away

War of Tweets 

Rihanna and Greta Thuneburg tweeted and a tweetle (tweet battle) erupted with tweeples joining the pro government chorus from ruling party politicians, bollywood stars to cricketers. Analogy was drawn between the earlier tweet by Canadian PM Trudeau interfering in the internal matters of india. It is completely another matter that the latter tweeted as head of a state and the former are celebrities expressing their opinion on a matter which has now become a world news.  

In reply to the above tweets, the MEA tweets that “laws were passed with due deliberation” but as has been rightly mentioned by Ramchandra Guha laws that proposed such far-reaching changes in the agricultural sector should first have been discussed with the states. They were not. They should have been referred to a parliamentary committee; they were not. 

After bypassing these procedures, the Modi Government acted more brazenly still, by not even allowing a division and a formal counting of votes in the Rajya Sabha. Our home minister finds the time to respond to the tweets of these people, who we are pretty sure he wouldn’t have heard about earlier, such is the insecurity of the government. 

To add to it, we have filed an FIR against Greta Thunberg.

Dhritraashtra analogy

In Mahabharat, It was Dhritraashtra’s ambition to become the king that fueled the fire of treachery in Duryodhan’s mind. In the episode of the dyootkrida, the elders Bheeshma Pitamah, Guru Drona, Kripacharya etc. keep on asking Dhritraashtra to stop the game of dice. But feigning ignorance and rules of the game, he lets the game go on and doesn’t stop it. He turns a blind eye, metaphorically as well as literally, to all the wrong that goes around him, forgets his moral responsibility as the king and lets the wrong be done by others. 

In the current context, it is the prime minister, who has all the powers that the polity of the country can offer, who is being obstinate. For once, lets consider that the farm laws are very good for the farmers of the whole country. But if there is a problem even in some remote corner, and lets not forget, we are talking about the largest contributing states in grain contribution to the FCI, shouldn’t it be addressed ? What’s the harm in taking a back foot on the farm laws? If it is so right then it can be passed again. The government has the numbers in the parliament, it has time of another three years, Modiji’s popularity is still intact, then why? 

It is the aspiration to rule over a democracy and crush the opposition, debates or discussions that has turned Narendra Bhai into a modern day Dhritraashtra. Saintly, sporting the hairstyle and demeanour of Gurudev, he calmly says “I’m just a phone call away”. 

What have we reduced ourselves to 

The visuals of a tractor taking killer rounds at the ITO crossing, of a religious flag being hoisted at the Red Fort, of farmers and the police fighting pitched battles on the roads to Red Fort will remain etched in the minds of the people for years. Of course, it was not correct. But what has made it come to such a pass ? 

Roads to Delhi being dug up and cemented with barbed wires, nails and obstructions, district after district being denied of internet services in the border states of Delhi and this is when the PM is just a phone call away. What if that phone call never materializes? Will he, like Dhritraashtra of Mahabharat, claim that “the call never came, we had offered”. 

What is the message that the government is putting across to the agitators ? The more they are kept on the road, the more will the government get cornered. Now mahapanchayats have started happening in western UP and Haryana. It could be politically driven but that’s the point of democracy. The opposition will find its way, if not in the parliament then on the streets, if not from outside the party then from within.  The political parties failed, so the citizens have taken it in their hands. 

To say that we are protecting the people of Delhi from the mob is one argument but to stop people from making themselves heard is not done. 

First instigate, then blame

One characteristic about this government that has been observed during this protest and the earlier Shaheen Bagh protest is that first it gets things on the wrong side of the people and then when they oppose, it starts calling it names and blaming them. 

The contentious CAA bill was passed without much deliberation and these three farm laws, with the ordinance and the way they were passed, have been a travesty of parliamentarian system. It raises question marks on the government’s understanding of the federal polity of india because it goes just by the letter and not the spirit. 

True meaning of democracy is when it is truly representative and the govt of the day is ready to listen. And yes the place to make the voice heard is the parliament and not the streets. But when the process of discussion is short circuited and there is no space for debate, then the streets replace parliament and lead the way to rowdyism. 

In this argument the blame is not being shifted but should be shared between the two parties. 

Now it has become an ego issue with both sides taking a tough stance

The agitators had a chance where the government got ready to put the laws on hold for 18 months and hold discussion on the same. Then there was the SC appointed committee which is formed to look into the matter. But they have refused both the options and are maintaining the hard stance on repealing the laws. 

The government, on the other hand, offered its olive branch for discussion through holding the laws in abeyance for 18 months, and took one step back. But its earlier belligerence is coming to haunt them. More so after the January 26 hungama, the way the farmers have been cordoned off and the borders being sealed as if preparing for any army to coming its way. 

Way forward 

In this whole episode, it is the government which should take a softer stand. Because the laws were passed without due deliberation, it is being asked that they be taken back. The government says that it is ready for discussion but the same should have happened at the opportune time. Right now both the parties are taking a tough stance and preventing a solution to come forward. 

The visuals of Delhi border being sealed against its own farmers is a sight. It puts India’s hard earned soft power in a jeopardy and questions the maturity of its representatives. Rakesh Tikait’s tears have transformed the Gazipur border and the jatland. PM Modi and HM Shah would be cursing UP CM Adityanath under their breath. 

This standoff needs to end. Rather than becoming Dhritraashtra, PM Modi should become a statesman and stand down. He needs the political space to do so and the agitators need to understand that. 


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