In Fire-fighting Mode
As predicted on Cool Breeze, the government has deployed its last standing Sikh face to fire-fight with the protesting farmers from Punjab. Cabinet Minister Hardeep Puri has been busy explaining the government’s line on the farm reform bills to TV channels and also writing columns countering what he calls a false narrative against these bills. The said columns have also been translated into Oriya, Marathi, Gurmukhi, Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati. Guess this is one project that will need all of Puri’s skills as a writer, consummate diplomat and a pro reforms politician.
Something’s Gotta Give
Dr Subramanian Swamy is full of surprises. He has made his stand on the farmers’ protests quite clear, while he supports the reforms, he is of the view that the views of the intended beneficiaries should also be taken into account. For as he pointed out during his weekly interview on NewsX, while he supports the bills, you also have to take the views of the beneficiaries into account, for you cannot say the Emergency was good just because the trains ran on time and the babus came to office on time. But the surprise was when he rounded off his comments with a quote from Frank Sinatra saying: “When an irresistible force meets an immovable object, something’s gotta give.” Well, as one year turns into the next we are waiting to see which force blinks first.
Between a Chair and a Protest
Haryana’s Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala is caught between his vote bank and his desire to be in the Deputy CM’s chair. There is mounting pressure on him to pull out of the BJP-led government in the state as the farmers form a core base of his vote bank. But for some inexplicable reason he is staying put, propping up the BJP government with his 10 MLAs. In fact, most of his party workers want him to break away from the BJP. Interestingly, he has not gone to meet his grandfather Om Prakash Chautala in the last few months as well. He has, however, offered to mediate between the farmers and the government, but Dushyant’s offer is not being taken up. Instead, angry farmers are surrounding his cavalcade, forcing him to take to the chopper to move around in the state. In the meanwhile, the Hoodas, both father and son have got active, sensing a change at the ground level. Will they be able to topple the government with the help of disgruntled MLAs from Chautala’s party? That should be Dushyant’s main worry at the moment.
Supporter, not Leader
After Devi Lal, Chaudhary Charan Singh, Mahendra Singh Tikait and an ageing Parkash Singh Badal there is no tall farmers’ leader in the country. What is remarkable about this agitation is that it is largely faceless with the exception of Mahendra Singh Tikait’s son Rakesh. One reason for this is to keep this as a citizen’s movement and not allow politicians to hijack it. All political parties have been asked to stay away from the protest sites. But one leader who is seen there helping out with food and supplies is Charan Singh’s grandson, Jayant. He keeps a low profile but makes his presence felt without raising any hackles. Having recently recovered from Covid, he was seen with his mask on, mingling with the crowds. As for the farm laws which the government claims are meant to benefit the farmers, he commented it’s like offering mithai to someone with diabetes.