Red Fort 'siege' by farmers creates unease in Oppn

Red Fort 'siege' by protesting farmers creates unease among Opposition parties

There is a clear understanding among the Oppn that the Lal Quila 'siege' will give the BJP and Modi govt ammunition enough to put other parties into a tight spot

Protesters climb a flagpole at the ramparts of the Red Fort as farmers continue to demonstrate against the central government's recent agricultural reforms in New Delhi on January 26, 2021. Credit: AFP Photo

With the chaos during farmers' tractor rally erupting in the capital and the incident of flags being hoisted at the Red Fort, political parties struggled to come out with a proper response. They, however, distanced themselves from "violence" in the agitation.

While Opposition parties put the onus for violence during the tractor rally on government, many of them seemed concerned over the group of farmers entering the Red Fort.

Read | Farmers broke pre-decided conditions for tractor parade, many personnel injured: Delhi Police

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said, "violence is no solution to any problem" even as he reiterated his demand that the Centre should withdraw all the three contentious farm laws.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also joined him in condoning violence.

Swaraj Party leader Yogendra Yadav, who has been consistent in his support to farmer agitation, regretted the breach of peace. "I don't know what actually happened. But what happened is absolutely shameful and condemnable. This does not represent the current movement," Yadav said.

In a statement, the ruling party of Delhi AAP, too, said that the violence had "certainly weakened the movement" but it blamed the central government for this.

NCP boss Sharad Pawar said farmers from Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh held the protest in a disciplined manner but the "government didn't take them seriously," and blamed the government for the chaos.

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee also blamed the 'Centre's insensitive attitude and indifference towards farmers' for the violence during the rally. Senior TMC leader Sougata Roy said violence cannot solve any problem.

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Left leaders, too condemned the violence, but squarely blamed the government for letting the situation deteriorate. "The situation has been brought to this pass by the Modi government. Farmers have been protesting peacefully in the cold for more than 60 days, not allowed to come into Delhi and more than 100 kisans are dead," CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted even as he categorically said, "violence in no form is an answer and is unacceptable."

As the outrage grew over the Lal Quila episode, farmer leader Rakesh Tikait alleged those trying to create disturbance are "people from political parties who are trying to malign the agitation".

The saffron flag hoisted by protesters was religious in nature—the 'Nishan Sahib', a symbol of Sikh religion seen at all Gurdwara complexes.

There is a clear understanding among the Opposition parties that the Lal Quila 'siege' will give the BJP and the Modi government ammunition enough to put other parties into a tight spot if they continue to support the agitation.

The episode has taken sheen out of the peaceful protest and could change the public opinion against the protesting farmers.

Also Read | One farmer dies during tractor rally at Delhi's ITO; protestors drape body in tricolour

As the protest rally threw the normal life haywire in the city after clashes and lathi-charges broke out in many places between a section of the protesters, and police personnel, criticism mounted on the manner of the agitations.

Earlier in the day, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said one has the freedom to agitate, but not to spread anarchy. Sharing a video grab of the hoisting of a flag by a group of protesting farmers at the Red fort, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said it was "painful". "Those whom we were calling annadata for so many days finally proved to be terrorists. Please do not defame annadatas but at the same time call the terrorists as terrorists."