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From 'Khalistanis' to defeat of 'anti-national' forces: Rhetoric around farmers protest comes a full circle

Members of the ruling party, including Modi, termed farmers' protests as "anti-national", with the term andolanjeevi entering the political lexicon
Last Updated 20 November 2021, 10:06 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, announcing the decision to repeal the contentious farm laws, spoke of his respect for farmers of the country and lamented that the government was unable to convince the farmers about its benefits.

However, the rhetoric around farmers' protests over the past year was quite the opposite with members of the ruling party, including Modi, terming the year-long stir as "anti-national", and the term "andolanjeevi" (one who thrives on protests) also entering the political lexicon.

In a reference to PM Narendra Modi's "andolanjeevi" comment that was made in the Parliament earlier this year, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Friday called PM Modi "headlinejeevi" following the announcement to repeal the laws.

The Central government ministers rushed to defend the decision to repeal the laws and spoke of the government's sensibility to repeal the laws, quickly changing tack from labelling protesters as mobs and gangsters, with some even having labelled them "leftists" and "Maoists".

BJP MP from Dausa in Rajasthan, Jaskaur Meena, had termed the protesters as "terrorists with Khalistani flags" in a video, while other party members and supporters alleged support from outside India to discredit the farmers.

Union Minister Piyush Goel had then said, “We now realise that the so-called farmer agitation hardly remains a farmers’ agitation. It has almost got infiltrated by leftist and Maoist elements..."

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had stated that action would be taken against "tukde tukde" gang members who were spearheading the protests while BJP national secretary Y Satya Kumar alleged that goons were posing as farmers and called protesters "Khalistani" and "jihadis".

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar also contributed to this rhetoric, terming that the protest was being organised by "unwanted elements" but there was no further elaboration on the same.

Even as the RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) on Friday tried to change the rhetoric calling Modi's move to repeal the laws a defeat of "anti-national and separatist" elements, the farmers seems to have had the last laugh as the Modi government bowed to their demand to revoke the three laws.

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(Published 20 November 2021, 06:07 IST)

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