It would be good for Indian politics to create a pan-Indian political party representing the interests of farmers.
Caste is a regressive feature of Indian social life and although it is claimed that caste is a Hindu problem, there is enough material and content available that it has an impact on Muslims and Buddhists as well, although to a much lesser extent.
In India, it is said that “you do not vote, you vote your caste”. With this willful loss of smart policy choices open to you, there is no doubt that Indian politics will remain mired in the age-old disease of caste politics.
You can have national parties like Congress, BJP, Communists (almost no real power with them), regional parties like Shiv Sena, Trinamool Congress, DMK and ADMK, Biju Janata Dal etc. These parties provide an outlet for regional aspirations to come to the Front. It is the caste parties representing the interests of the Dalits, the interests of the Yadav, the backward classes, etc., which form the regressive part of Indian politics. Their governance actions are always dictated by the impact on their hard core and never by the need of the moment.
The only way to break caste politics is class politics. Nothing better than the party of the interests of the farmers which takes its rightful place under the sun. Can the Farmers’ Party affect the fortunes of caste parties the most, that is the question?
Farmers have always had the feeling that they ignore that their interests are not taken into account. We are told that almost 45% of India’s employable resource pool is involved in agricultural activity. If these numbers are correct, then there is a gaping hole in political thought and interest that must be filled.
The creation of the Farmers ‘Party and the attractiveness of their constituency at the time of voting across India will determine whether India feels the need for a Farmers’ Party or whether this party is present in certain pockets of influence or as idea that it has no traction. It is believed that harsh monetary power eased the year-long agitation of farmers at Delhi’s gates, and interest groups that allegedly lost their influence over grain production and supply were those who funded the agitation in desperation.
All of these theories will be tested with 3 possible outcomes (assuming there is a core core team making informed decisions for the farmers party):
- Optimistic scenario – Pan-Indian level Farmers’ Party wins 80-120 seats. This gives them significant political weight in any post-electoral scenario during the general elections of May 2024. They will have to play their cards well to exploit the situation;
- Intermediate scenario – the farmers’ party wins 25-40 seats in some specific geographic areas (say Punjab, Haryana, western UP and other surrounding areas). It might be a bit embarrassing for them as their leverage might drop. However, their constituents would still want action and this is where the friction might come;
- In the worst case, the Farmers’ Party wins less than 15 seats across India.
Both scenarios 2 and 3 above would show that there is little support across India for a Farmers’ Party and that their twisting of the arms of the government does not resonate with social activism across the country. . Very clearly, this would highlight the fact that the supposed support rests on wobbly legs and that there is no traction available for the idea of a Farmers Party.
Post one of the 3 scenarios above, the politics in India will change. Who wins and who loses is something time will tell, but the support for the farmers’ cause of the Indian electorate will be evident. Once and for all, the wheat will be separated from the chaff – “doodh ka doodh and pani ka pani” will be evident.
Leaders of farmers who now ride high horses can rise higher or be brought back to Earth. India needs to know if it needs a farmers party representing a specific interest class. This interest class itself will decide whether it wishes to do politics as it does today or whether it has the capacity, ideology, thought process, and funding to walk apart and uplift its main constituency.
The general elections of 2024 will be interesting with regional parties wanting to be national parties and the establishment of a new party representing the interests of farmers. May the best candidates win!
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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