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Blind in their own cause

Blind in their own cause
Highlights

Ostensibly in the name of farmers, a ‘Kisan Rally’ in New Delhi has always been a show of political strength, with thousands brought from nearby – all expenses paid with ‘Dilli Darshan’ as bonus. Held against the government of the day, some were promoted by the government itself as part of its factional fight.

The government has called the opposition’s role ‘obstructionist’— a role that has only interchanged with yesterday’s obstructionists being in power today

Ostensibly in the name of farmers, a ‘Kisan Rally’ in New Delhi has always been a show of political strength, with thousands brought from nearby – all expenses paid with ‘Dilli Darshan’ as bonus. Held against the government of the day, some were promoted by the government itself as part of its factional fight. The Congress organised them, so did the Communists in their heydays. The Chaudhrys – late Charan Singh and Devi Lal – were among the more successful proponents.

The ‘Kisan Rally’ being planned for April 20 by the Congress will also not be among the ‘kisans’, but in the heart of Delhi, causing traffic jams. It is a “people are with us” show and heralds the likely return from sabbatical of Vice-President Rahul Gandhi.The rally is but part of an all-in opposition gambit to confront the Narendra Modi Government on the Land Acquisition legislation. The government has called the opposition’s role ‘obstructionist’— a role that has only interchanged with yesterday’s obstructionists being in power today – and has threatened to promulgate afresh last year’s ordinance, which seems most likely.

Admittedly, it is unfair to single out the Congress for taking the rally route. If it meant to promote its ‘come-back kid,’ for the Left parties, too, the legislation is a big no-no. Additionally, the ‘Janata Parivar’ of former Lohiaites is also using it as an adhesive to unite for the crucial Bihar and other Assembly polls. Together, lawmakers from 14 parties had marched to Rashtrapati Bhavan last month to appeal to the President against the Ordinance. The President has himself disapproved of the government using the ordinance to tackle an issue it cannot in parliament.

Caught in this jam of the ordinance-versus-rally is the issue of empowering the government to acquire land for industry, infrastructure and a lot of more that is essential if the economy has to grow. It is pointless to judge whether the UPA legislation was good or the NDA’s is. But true to our political traditions, it is all ‘yours’ and ‘mine’ – ‘ours’ is totally absent. That mutual spirit of a win-win transaction is sorely missing.

There is mutual name-calling on farmers’ suicides which indicates that all is not well with agriculture. Who will then look at a just-published study that reveals that there are land acquisition-related conflicts over a fourth of the country, causing violence, misery and displacement? The squabbling over land acquisition persists even as 57,000 hectares acquired for special economic zones, displacing farmers long ago, remains vacant.

Does it not concern anybody that bad land management has led to violence and tribals deprived of their livelihood turning Naxalites? Since it says that it is not making the bill ‘a prestige issue,’ will the government sit together, enact a legislation that is fair, not just to entrepreneurs, but to the farmers as well?

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