With loan writeoff, Left sows seeds of political revival
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traders facing harassment by cow vigilantes and protested against high electricity rates for farmers, which were later withdrawn.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.”
Social activists pointed out that BJP and Congress leaders were conspicuous by their absence during the agitation.