Friday, December 1, 2023

Is siege politics the new norm in democratic India?

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared on Friday that his government has decided to remove the three controversial farm laws that had sparked massive farmers’ protests in Haryana and Punjab. The farm laws will be abolished by the end of the month, he added, and he urged the demonstrators to return home.

The decision did not sit well with the government’s supporters, who had been outspoken in their support for the farm laws. On social media and elsewhere, there is a lot of anger focused on PM Modi’s government. Narendra Modi, for one, said that they were unable to persuade farmers that the regulations were in their best interests. He also stated that a committee will be created to introduce legislation for the benefit of farmers.

On the other hand, Rakesh Tikait and the SKM Farmers’ Union said yesterday that they will continue to demonstrate until the laws are repealed in Parliament. The organization expressed its delight at PM Modi’s declaration but noted that their other demands were yet to be met.

Nonetheless, the government has suffered a significant setback. The farmers’ protests were the second occasion in recent times when masses took to the streets in an attempt to overturn legislation passed by the Indian parliament. The Shaheen Bagh protests had also taken a similar path where sit-in protests were organized in public spaces of the national capital to oppose the Citizenship(Amendment) Act, 2019. “Dissent and democracy go hand in hand but protests must be carried out in designated areas,” ruled a Supreme Court bench while hearing a batch of petitions against the blockade of roads by anti-CAA protesters.

The question of the hour is, is siege politics the only way to solve the problem? Are we watching a pattern being formed, from anti-CAA protests to farmers’ protests?

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