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Mythmaking sycophants will now have to dump their vile thesaurus

The dark shadow of a possible rout in Uttar Pradesh can no longer be shrugged off as ‘fantasy conjured by an opposition in disarray’. 

Published: 28th November 2021 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th November 2021 07:14 PM   |  A+A-

For representational purposes

The first slice of the humble pie has been eaten. The ‘gracious’ apology (offered with folded hands), the ‘magnanimous’ concession, the ‘statesmanlike’ gesture and all the other phrases spinning out of control can’t hide the fact that the repeal of the farm laws sounds unmistakably like the bugle at the Beating of the Retreat. Sure, there is a spectacular display of lights and the music played by the martial bands is uplifting but nothing can temper the sense of loss—a touch of unmistakable sadness.

Sighs of relief tinged with sorrow, “Better late than never.” But there is another apt saying. “Too little, too late.” This ‘U-turn’ was announced, like so many other momentous decisions of this government, as a stunner. It is a measure of the loss of the government’s credibility that few are preparing to celebrate. Speculation is rife about the timing and motivation in a sudden change of heart. 

The opinion polls seem to have sent shivers down the spine of election managers in the BJP. It’s not only the smaller states like Goa and Uttarakhand where people’s unhappiness with the ruling party has acquired a sharp cutting edge but BJP’s alienation from the farmers has left it isolated in Punjab. The dark shadow of a possible rout in Uttar Pradesh can no longer be shrugged off as ‘fantasy conjured by an opposition in disarray’. 

Forget the Congress, driven by a suicidal impulse—perpetually busy playing dynastic games failing miserably to keep squabbling, feuding, conspiring courtiers in place. Its insistence on contesting all the seats in the Legislative Assembly in forthcoming elections is yet another proof (if one was required) how Sonia, Rahul, Priyanka and long-out-of-power hangers-on have lost touch with ground reality. Nor can one imagine Mayawati regaining lost ground in foreseeable future. That only leaves Akhilesh Yadav and the Samajwadi Party to rally round all anti-BJP votes to throw a spanner in Yogi Adityanath’s works. 

Public outrage at the PM’s silence over the ghastly incident at Lakhimpur Kheri has caused anguish and engendered a sense of betrayal that has spread far beyond the bereaved families. The minister, tainted due to the conduct of his progeny, continues to remain in the Council of Ministers. The Supreme Court’s scathing criticism has put not only Yogi but also the Central Government in the dock. Prima facie—and it is important to underline this—the apex court has found inexplicable dragging of feet by investigating agencies that seems to protect a particular accused. The legal eagle Harish Salve representing the UP government has had to face unpleasant heat during the hearings. Something the Senior Advocate and now a QC is not used to. Frankly, you can’t defend the indefensible. 

Lakhimpur Kheri reminds us of the story about the last straw on the back of the camel. The oppressed and the weak, the abjectly poor and the meek also have limits of endurance. Stretch it and it breaks. This point was reached when the ministerial convoy crushed—not accidentally—peacefully protesting farmers. Just when the BJP was beginning to feel that the wounds inflicted by the second wave of Covid aggravated by inept handling by the government—corpses floating down the Ganga, large-scale cremations outside crematoriums, oxygen shortage and choked hospitals driving citizens from pillar to post—were healing a bit and memories of trauma fading Lakhimpur exploded. 

So, is the repeal of farm laws the much-needed course correction albeit under electoral compulsions? Will this have a cascading effect and other unpopular legislation/ordinances such as CAA, NRC even repeal of Article 370 will also be rolled back? Or is it too clever by half stratagem to win a brief respite to recover and retain power in 2024? And, strike back even harder when the time is ripe?

The polls are months away. There will be many occasions to celebrate ‘glorious’, ‘unprecedented’ achievements: Fighter planes landing and taking off from highways, dedication to the nation of ‘sattvik’, 100 percent vegetarian trains, foundation stone-laying ceremonies—physical and virtual. Another vaccination milestone crossed—The Man’s reach always tempting him to go beyond what is already in grasp!

There is no shortage of distractions and diversions. The enemy at the borders, the enemies within. Grave threats to the nation’s security. But the people’s memory isn’t as short as it is made out to be. It’s over two years since J&K was administratively reorganised—heed into UTs. The terrorists haven’t been extinguished. Exhumation of bodies of civilians killed in action raises uncomfortable questions. The territory is today governed from Delhi. It alone is responsible for successes and failures there. From the northeastern states to the heartland where the Maoists continue to harass, there is much to worry about besides elections. 

What should now dawn on advisers and damage-controllers in the PMO is that vile abuses can’t stifle dissent. The farmers were called ‘urban naxals’, ‘interruptor-conspirators’, ‘foreign agents’, ‘Khalistani’, ‘traitors’ and much else. The mythmaking sycophants will now have to throw this thesaurus in the Jumna. 

Pushpesh Pant

pushpeshpant@gmail.com

Former professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University



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