With loan write­off, Left sows seeds of po­lit­i­cal re­vival

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - Front Page - Ur­vashi Dev Rawal Ur­vashi.rawal@htlive.com

THE OTHER WIN­NER By sus­tain­ing farm­ers’ protest, CPM scores big against the Congress, steals rul­ing BJP’s thun­der

The CPM that has no rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the state as­sem­bly put the BJP and Congress on the back foot by grab­bing the ini­tia­tive on the farm­ers’ ag­i­ta­tion for loan waiver.

The Ra­jasthan gov­ern­ment an­nounced a ₹20,000-crore farm­loan waiver on Thurs­day after a two-week-long ag­i­ta­tion by thou­sands of farm­ers.

The CPM sus­tained the ag­i­ta­tion for 13 days in Sikar district and ad­join­ing ar­eas, pri­mar­ily an agrar­ian belt. It found sup­port from thou­sands of farm­ers as the two main par­ties were con­spic­u­ous by their ab­sence.

The talks, spread over two days, were mainly dead­locked over crop loan waiver. Given the large turnout at the protest, the gov­ern­ment did not want to be seen as anti- farmer nor did it want the Left to walk away with credit for the de­ci­sion which could have po­lit­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions.

Deny­ing any po­lit­i­cal agenda, agri­cul­ture min­is­ter Prab­hu­lal Saini said the gov­ern­ment had also held talks with other farmer or­gan­i­sa­tions, such as the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh and the Kisan Ma­ha­pan­chayat.

“We made the an­nounce­ment in the in­ter­est of farm­ers. The farmer or­gan­i­sa­tions had a com­mon agenda and after dis­cus­sions with all of them, we took this de­ci­sion, not un­der duress from the Left,” he told HT.

“The CPM drew a blank in the last as­sem­bly elec­tions. CPM leader Am­raram, a four-time MLA, saw the ag­i­ta­tion as a good way to gar­ner sup­port of the cru­cial farmer lobby ahead of as­sem­bly elec­tions next year,” said Ash­faque Kayamkhani, a so­cial ac­tivist of Sikar.

By or­gan­is­ing ag­i­ta­tions on th­ese is­sues, the CPM is gar­ner­ing good­will among the Mus­lims, farm­ers and SCs, the tra­di­tional vote­bank of the Congress

“It’s too early to pre­dict its im­pact on the as­sem­bly elec­tions but in this case at least the CPM won the day. BJP and Congress MLAs and lead­ers were ab­sent from the ag­i­ta­tion,” said Kayamkhani.

“Am­raram as­tutely gauges the pub­lic mood and picks up is­sues that res­onate with the peo­ple. He knew farm­ers were free be­fore the next sowing sea­son and would ex­tend sup­port. He hopes to build his po­lit­i­cal con­stituency to win elec­tions once again.”

Am­raram had earlier come out in sup­port of Mus­lim cat­tle traders fac­ing ha­rass­ment by cow vig­i­lantes and protested against high elec­tric­ity rates for farm­ers, which were later with­drawn.

Narayan Bareth, a pro­fes­sor at the Depart­ment of Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Univer­sity of Ra­jasthan, said po­lit­i­cal ad­van­tage to the CPM would come at the Congress’s cost as they share the same po­lit­i­cal base. “By or­gan­is­ing ag­i­ta­tions on th­ese is­sues, the CPM is gar­ner­ing good­will among the Mus­lims, farm­ers and SCs, the tra­di­tional vote­bank of the Congress,” said Bareth.

Congress MLA from Lachh­man­garh Govind Singh Do­tasara de­nied any set­back to the party. “The Congress did not join the Left-led ag­i­ta­tion but we have al­ways sup­ported farm­ers. Congress held a pub­lic meet­ing of farm­ers in Sikar in June where state Congress pres­i­dent Sachin Pilot had de­manded loan waiver.”

Gord­han, the BJP MLA from Dhod, said the Left was try­ing to re­build its lost po­lit­i­cal iden­tity through such pol­i­tics of pres­sure. “The elec­tions are still far off. It’s too early to say if the Left will reap any po­lit­i­cal ben­e­fit.”

HT PHOTO

So­cial ac­tivists pointed out that BJP and Congress lead­ers were con­spic­u­ous by their ab­sence dur­ing the ag­i­ta­tion.

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