Is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s step back on agricultural laws cowardice or calculation?

For this leadership, a pragmatic retreat is much more crucial than a daring and idealistic charge.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced the Centre’s decision to repeal agricultural laws. ANI

Things are not looking good for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The once ruthless actor looks like a meek, helpless director pushed around by student union bullies, eager to give in to save his chair and his dignity.

By agreeing to repeal reforming farm laws after the anarchy sparked by the opposition, Punjab’s agricultural intermediaries or arthiyas, and dark forces like the ISI-backed Khalistanis, Modi gave credence to the growing impression that this nation can be ruled by the crowd on the streets and not by the party elected to parliament with 303 seats and enjoys a comfortable majority in both houses.

This is not the first time that the Prime Minister has reversed his decision. During the first term, he had rolled back the Land Bill after a backlash from his rivals.

But the man seems increasingly crippled in his second term as Prime Minister. The Citizenship Amendment Act was passed in 2019, but has not been implemented since. The Center silently observed the barbaric post-election massacre of BJP workers in Bengal. Despite the new computer rules, Big Tech continues to find ways to undermine government by promoting ideologies that are hostile to it. A caste-free quota was created for the poor through the 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act 2019. But on implementation, the Center told the Supreme Court in 2020 that it was up to States to deploy it.

And now, after Delhi’s raid by henchmen posing as farmers, gang rapes and public killings at protest sites, the middlemen have done what they want.

For a government, it rarely gets darker than that.

But knowing Modi, it would be premature to call this capitulation. These could well be strategic retreats to fight another day, to focus on the outcome of the war even if a few battles are lost. The timing (Guru Nanak’s birthday) and the language indicate strong political motivation in Punjab. The BJP is not even a serious player in the state right now. He was accumulating extreme negativity after farm laws were presented as an attack on Sikhs.

Now, with the repeal, players like Amarinder Singh and Shiromani Akali Dal are said to be ready to team up with BJP.

Public apologies have great political power. Arvind Kejriwal’s apology after his botched first term brought him back to power with 67 of the 70 seats in Delhi. The prime minister’s on-air apology could give the BJP its first foothold in Punjab.

From the prism of national security, the Pakistani ISI and China were fishing in the troubled waters of the Punjab. As the last Sikhs are ethnically cleansed in Pakistan and Afghanistan, images of a so-called Sikh-Muslim unit floated slowly. Anti-Hindu sentiments were stoked in the Punjab and among the Sikhs. The repeal of farm laws blunts that.

And finally, the main thought engine of the current disposition of the RSS-BJP believes that staying in power long enough is of the utmost importance in bringing about the much-desired civilizational reset. Years in power mean most things fall into place. For this leadership, a pragmatic retreat is much more crucial than a daring and idealistic charge.

In his book A brief history of Aurangzib, one of India’s best historians, Jadunath Sarkar paints a revealing portrait of the Battle of Dharmat. At one point in the battle, Aurangzeb’s troops had their backs to the wall.

“The successful Rajputs rushed in and pierced the heart of Aurangzib’s vanguard. It was the most critical moment of the day; if the Rajput accusation was not verified, it would all be over with Aurangzib, ”he wrote.

But raw courage, instead of a quiet strategy, made the Rajputs. “All six Rajput leaders engaged in the charge have been killed. Desperately outnumbered now, assailed in front, right and left, and cut off from their rear, the Rajputs were slaughtered after performing frenzied acts of bravery.

The war of civilization is too precious to be sacrificed for the glory of just courage. Perhaps time will show Modi’s apparent acts of cowardice in a different light.


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