DAMAGED CROPS, POOR INCOME AND OVERPRODUCTION FORCING FARMERS TO PROTEST

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Drought or rains, the farmer in India is cursed to live a life of misery. In last 15 years, over 2.30 lakh farmers have been forced to commit suicide, i.e., two farmers committing suicide every hour. Either a drought year damages their standing crops or a normal rainfall causes overproduction, something that is happening this year also, that makes their produce much cheaper than the prevailing market prices and thus a burden as they are not able to recover even their input costs.

And raging farmers’ agitation in Mandsaur and other districts of Madhya Pradesh and farmers’ protests in states like Maharashtra, Punjab, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu tell us their patience is finally waning. And why not? How long can they sustain with a monthly household income of Rs. 6426 when they have to feed mouths, when they have to educate children, when they have to cover their health costs and most importantly, they have to repay their loans that they took to sow their crops? How can they manage all this in a meager sum Rs. 6426?

The National Sample Survey Office’s report of the country’s agricultural households has estimated the average income per month of agricultural households at Rs. 6426 a month. And this income figure is not from farming alone. In fact, according to the NSSO survey, farming accounts for less than 50 per cent of the income of an agricultural household. Out of Rs. 6426 a month, cultivation accounts for earning of Rs 3078 or 47.9 per cent, Rs 2069 or 32.2 per cent comes from wage or salary, Rs 765 or 11.9 per cent comes from livestock and Rs 514 or 8 per cent from non-farm business.

Punjab’s agricultural households, at Rs 18059 a month, earn most followed by Haryana’s agricultural households at Rs 14434 a month and Jammu & Kashmir at Rs 12683 a month while Bihar’s agricultural households earn lowest in the country at Rs 3558 per month followed by West Bengal’s agricultural households at Rs 3980.

According to the 70th Round of the National Sample Survey, conducted during January-December 2013, the number of agricultural households in India was around 9 crore. Now if we take the average Indian family size of five, we can say that 45 crore of Indians are surviving just at Rs 6426 per month. And Rs 6426 per month for a family of five means Rs 1285 per individual per month of an agricultural household in our country, an income level around our abysmally low poverty lines that have always been questioned by activists and experts.

Contrast it to India’s per capita income at Rs 1,03,219 or Rs 8600 a month. Even if indicative, if we juxtapose this income figure for a family of five, it comes around Rs 43,000 a month.

This huge gap between the income of an agricultural household and an average Indian household, i.e, Rs 6426 to Rs 43,000 per month, is the result of skewed income distribution in our society. The Household Survey on India’s Citizen Environment & Consumer Economy (ICE 360 degree survey) findings show the stark income based difference prevailing in our country. According to the survey, India’s richest 20 per cent account for the country’s 45 per cent aggregate household disposable income while its poorest 20 per cent barely survive on seven per cent of the share.

India has 363 million people living below the latest national poverty line suggested by the Rangarajan Committee in 2014 – Rs 32 a day in rural India and Rs 47 a day in urban India. Contrast it to the Global Poverty Line of Rs 123 a day ($1.90), four times of India’s rural poverty line and three times of its urban poverty line and we are staring at a much higher number than 363 million of defined poor in our country.

©SantoshChaubey

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TRAIN TO LATUR

(OR THE ‘WATER TRAIN’ TO LATUR)

It is not the first time and whenever it happens, it tells the gravity of the problem – here in Marathwada this time, facing the worst ever drought in its written history – and Maharashtra facing the worst ever drought in the last 100 years. And Maharashtra has another farm suicide capital – Vidarbha – to make the matters worse.

Together, Marathwada and Vidarbha share the maximum burden of farmers’ suicides in the country – with Maharashtra being the second most dependent state on agriculture after Uttar Pradesh – but the stark irony is – and has been – Uttar Pradesh, though has its share of farm suicides, comes lower in the list of annual data on farmers’ suicides due to agrarian crisis in the country – while at the same time, Maharashtra’s industrial advancement is far better than Uttar Pradesh’s.

This ‘agriculture dependence and industrial progress’ correlation explains partly why Maharashtra sees far higher number of farm suicides than Uttar Pradesh – it’s basically about the mindset that is shaped by the socio-political milieu – that raises expectation levels – from self, from society, and from polity – and makes facing advertise difficult.

It doesn’t mean Uttar Pradesh is doing any better. It is, in fact, far worse than Maharashtra, because the socio-political milieu here has reduced people to mere numbers who don’t matter at all, even for themselves. They probably don’t face the set of problems that a Maharashtra farmer faces because they cannot afford even those problems.

Marathwada’s drought is in its fourth consecutive year and Latur is the worst hit district. The 600 odd water tankers, including the private ones, around 400, have failed to help around 2.5 million people of this district (Census 2011) with an important (and busy) railway station that is said to be gateway of the cultural region of Marathwada. The state water supply comes here once in a week or ten days.

Conditions here are so worrying that Latur has become synonymous with Maharashtra’s drought as Kalahandi had become with Odisha’s hunger problem. And to compound the problem, Latur is not alone – with severe weather condition prevailing in Beed, Osmanabad, Prabhani and many other districts.

After failing to ensure water supply through water tankers and water rationing (including imposing riot control measures like the Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code – against any ‘unlawful assembly’ to queue up for the scarce water), an age-old problem of India due to poor water management practices and flawed agricultural policies (Maharashtra’s water guzzling sugarcane factories in a drought prone belt), the Maharashtra government has now come up with this idea – of supplying water through trains – the ‘water trains’.

And it is not the first time.

In fact, if we go back, we can find examples as early as 1986 when Gujarat used the ‘water trains’ to fetch water to a crisis hit Rajkot. In recent history, these ‘water trains’ have been a recurring addition to the Indian Railways fleet in Gujarat and Rajasthan. I am certain if we look for more, we will come across many more examples. A point to be mentioned here is that a ‘water train’ concept to bring water to drought hit California from the Pacific was criticised in America due to its high cost structure.

Certainly, it will not be that expensive in India. In fact, Latur has been assigned two ‘water trains’ – each with 50 tank wagons. Each tank wagon has a filling capacity of 54,000 litres. Railways will fill 50,000 litres in each wagon. That means each ‘Latur water train’ will carry 25,00,000 litres to the parched souls and land of Latur.

The first ‘water train’ will reach Latur in few hours (as reported). The second will start its journey on April 15 from the Kota workshop in Rajasthan from where the first one left on April 8. Maharashtra has miserably failed to address its water distribution anomalies in the state. Hope this ‘water train’ has a different fate for people of Latur who need around a million litres water a day.

‘The water trains’, with their continued existence, are yet another testimony on how the state has failed to bring the fundamental changes to uplift people in the world second most populous nation with millions of poor and illiterate who survive on agriculture.

But here, the train to Latur, though a reminder of state’s apathy, inefficiency and failure, carries hope for dried up thoughts. Let’s see the hope prevails.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

INDIA CAN’T DO WITHOUT SUBSIDIES – AND IT WANTS TO TAX PROVIDENT FUND!

We are a nation where the urban poverty line is Rs. 47 a day while we think that the rural folks can survive at Rs. 32 a day and we arrived at this wisdom in 2014. When we had done so, we had graduated from the poverty lines of Rs. 27 in rural areas and Rs. 33 in urban areas. This is when you can’t arrange even a modest one time meal in Rs. 32.

This directly says the proportion of real poor, in qualitative terms, based on the average living conditions today, would be much higher that the projected figure of around 30% or less. When you go assessing this poverty mess keeping in mind ‘what should be and what is’, you see this is another equal India within India (or Bharat of the perennial India Vs Bharat debate).

Some 75% of Indians are without any health insurance cover. Majority cannot afford medicines for a sustained treatment regime, let alone the costly surgical processes. The attitude of doctors and support staff in the government run hospitals is even worse than scavengers. Finding good people there tougher than even finding God. People who can afford and can access, try to ignore the government run health facilities. And it across India including the metro cities.

Officially, India’s literacy rate is around 75%. But again, if we see qualitatively, it is the same old story of an equal sized Bharat within India. Our primary school system is languishing with deep holes and leakage in the ambitious Universal Elementary Education programme. Our higher education probably produces the maximum proportion of inept professionals and higher education graduates.

Our economy is consistently witnessing a falling gross savings to GDP ratio – from 34.6% in 2011-12 – to – 31.3% in 2015-16. One way to look at it would that people don’t have wealth in that proportion to save – something that is, naturally, very random and without substance. Or it means people are saving less.

But that doesn’t mean the government should use to a stick to discipline people – like the proponents of the EPF tax proposal including Finance Minister Arun Jaitely said – as a report the Economic Times put forward – “The government had justified the move by saying that it was meant to steer private sector employees towards a pensioned retirement by discouraging lump sum withdrawals, especially for, as experience suggests, conspicuous consumption.”

The finger is being pointed at it rightly – that who is the government to discipline us with our personal preference. Yes, it is good for us when we save more – but then, on a macro scale, it is good for the nation’s economic health as well. But, in the name of that, taxing a man’s life’s savings can never be justified especially when you give people dreams save taxes and build a corpus by investing in the Provident Fund scheme.

And from where this thought of ‘disciplining’ the salaried taxpayer came? When you have such ridiculous poverty lines, when you have millions poor to feed, when you have millions poor to heal, when you have millions poor to educate?

India and Bharat cannot become synonymous until we address these existential questions. Subsidy is now addressed as a ‘burden’ in the lingo being used by the economists but this ‘burden’ is lifeline for India’s millions poor who find it hard even to earn Rs. 47 or Rs. 32 a day.

The government is duty-bound to serve them first – with honesty – with integrity – with consistency. Taxing the middle class with another ‘tax burden’ would not serve any purpose here.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

INDIA’S AGRICULTURE MINISTER COUNTS ‘LOVE AFFAIRS AND IMPOTENCY’ AMONG REASONS BEHIND FARM SUICIDES

Now this is really crass and sounds blasphemous when it comes from the Agriculture Minister of India.

India is the world’s largest democracy.

It is also the world third largest economy.

It is now the fastest growing economy of the world.

It is also projected to have the world largest share of middle class by 2030, a ‘must’ market for transnational corporations and economies.

It is the founder member of the New Development Bank of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) grouping, an important global block of emerging economies with potential to drive the world economy (and the geopolitics). It also joined Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) this month.

It is a proven global power in space technology.

Its information-technology industry is among the best in the world.

India is being seen as a true global power. Nations across the globe are accepting it. Suddenly, Pakistan is no match for India. Until now, the comparison has been about how China is far ahead of India – especially on economic indicators – and therefore, the development they bring. Now, the analyses are mostly about how China is slowing down and saturating and how India is poised to become the next global economic powerhouse.

It has had a Narendra Modi led government since May 2014 that is seen excelling in promoting Brand India on different global platforms.

But, in spite of the all the claims and realities, India is still an agrarian economy – with number of people dependent on it.

But, in spite of employing some 55% of the populations, agriculture’s share in the national GDP has shrunk to just 14%.

In spite of the fact that GDP has expanded and services and manufacturing have major shares now, the share of people dependent on agriculture has not come down in that large a proportion. It means a GDP contributor that has seen consistently reduced pie in the overall chart has much more people to support than other sectors of economy. If we follow the simple logic of ‘supply and demand’, ‘supply’ of people dependent on agriculture has far outdone their demand for a resource that is growing scare in, i.e., land area has remained the same but has always been cursed to support an ever increasing number of population directly dependent on it. That leaves most of its dependents in a perpetual state of instability, i.e., farmers.

Growth in the number of agricultural labourers since the independence has surpassed that of cultivators by a large margin. India had around 70 million cultivators in 1947 while agriculture labourers were at around 27 million. But in 2011, agricultural labourers surpassed cultivators by around 26 million (118 million cultivators to 144 million labourers).

P. Sainath writes that some 2035 farmers lose their ‘cultivator status’ daily. They obviously join the class of landless farmers or agricultural labourers.

Every year, thousands of farmers are forced to commit suicide due to financial problems and dependent social evils. And it has been an unending black spot on India for decades. Unseasonal rains during first few months of this year forced more than a thousand farmers to take their lives in Maharashtra alone.

In spite of all its economic advances and industrial growth, India has not been able to address many glaring sociological gaps prevalent in the country.

In spite of its increasing global stature, India is yet to find a way to address its increasing social disparity, the widening gap between haves and have-nots.

India has still hollow and questionable answers to debates like ‘India Vs Bharat’, Metro India Vs Small Town India and Urban India Vs Hinterland India’.

And the ways to the way go through our political establishment, elected to run the country, since the first elections were held after the independence.

And when a minister from that political establishment, from an elected government, expresses such insensitive remarks, we feel so low – the nation, once again, is forced to feel that India would never be able to bridge its ‘class gaps’ with such policymakers.

And Radha Mohan Singh’s is not a standalone case.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

MAY DAY OR NO MAYDAY: RAHUL IS MAKING NEWS FOR GOOD REASONS THESE DAYS

“Today we pay tribute to the millions of workers whose hard work, sweat and tears have gone into building our nation. No country can aspire to greatness without ensuring that the people who build the nation are partners in its prosperity and success. That those who work in our factories, in our fields, at our construction sites, in our mines and in enterprises big and small across our country are assured dignity of labour and a decent quality of life. That their children too have opportunities to choose the life they want to live, and a chance to excel and prosper. Let us renew our resolve today to strive for an India in which every citizen rich or poor, farmer and labourer, irrespective of the circumstance of their birth can hold their head high and live and work with dignity and honour.”

Rahul Gandhi said this today, on May Day, on Labour’s Day, or on International Workers’ Day. And while saying so, he extended the revival plank of his party, the Indian National Congress, of being pro-poor and fighting for the cause of the farmer.

He is on an India tour these days, protesting the land bill ordinance. In his meetings and outreach programmes, he alleges the Narendra Modi’s government of being anti-poor and anti-farmer. He is alleging that the Narendra Modi’s government is pro-corporate interests and is working to usurp the rights and land of farmers and the poor of this country. He is saying that the ordinance route was taken as the government was not sure of its chances in the Parliament.

Yesterday, he was in Vidarbha, the place of Kalavati and Shashikala and countless others; the place where Rahul ate at Kalavati’s house in May 2008 (in Yavatmal’s Jalka village) and mentioned her later in his famous speech in the Indian Parliament during the trust-vote Manmohan Singh’s government.

He trekked 15 Kms of it. He is there to reach out to farmers and poor. Unseasonal rains have destroyed crops in around 2 lakh hectares, as the government data show. The real figure is expected to be higher, like the farmer suicides, over 1000 this year, in affected regions across 14 states. Some states like Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have seen many farm suicides in these months.

And the National Democratic Alliance’s government has already re-promulgated a land ordinance that is vociferously opposed by the political opposition as well as some allied within the government.

A changed Rahul sees an opportunity here – of Congress’ revival – and of taking on Bhartiya Janata Party.

Yes, a changed Rahul Gandhi.

Post his latest sabbatical, Rahul looks politically active and more aggressive. And the BJP is taking it seriously, hitting back. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s response in the Indian Parliament yesterday can be seen this way. Firstpost quoted him saying – “Yeh sujh-bujh ki sarkar hai, isme koi galat fahmi nahi rahe (this is a government of solutions, there should be no misconception about this). Booted hona better hai. Booted out hona khatarnak hai (It is better to be booted. Getting booted out is very dangerous). Yesterday there was criticism (by Rahul) against the Prime Minister that he spends time abroad. At least we know where he is. Is India taller in the community of nations today than it was a few years ago or not? I was surprised when I read over the last few days that compared to the developed world, whether it was Iraq or it was Yemen or Nepal today, it is India which is now being considered as a global leader even in areas where we could not manage our own affairs earlier – disaster management. The Congress Party would realize when the Prime Minister of India goes abroad even for two days or three days, he performs a national duty. There is a difference between performing a national duty and disappearing for a jaunt. Therefore, you must realize the difference between the two. What is the kind of commitment to politics that you suddenly disappear for months together and then you come back and say that I will pick up an issue every day merely because it will make my presence felt.”

So, Rahul Gandhi, after his leave of absence, is more certain of his future than ever it seems. Probably, he has introspected and meditated about it.

Hope, the changed streak is there to stay – and words of his May Day speech, that are clearly backed by a pro-poor approach, should be backed by an intent that is natural.

And yes, he has to find the solution to the ‘Robert Vadra riddle’ and convince the countrymen about it. It should happen soon. There is indeed a mayday like situation there.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: MEANWHILE, INDIAN FARMERS CONTINUE TO COMMIT SUICIDE

Debt-ridden farmer commits suicide in Kalaburagi
The Hindu-April 28, 2015

Two more farmers commit suicide over crop loss
Daily Mail, April 28, 2015

Cotton farmer commits suicide in TN
Business Standard, April 27, 2015

Another farmer commits suicide in Haryana
Chandigarh Tribune, April 27, 2015

Ninth Rajasthan Farmer to Commit Suicide in 1 Week
NDTV, April 26, 2015

Unable to pay loan, farmer hangs self outside DM office
Indian Express, April 26, 2015

Under debt, farmer commits suicide
Chandigarh Tribune, April 25, 2015

These are also some of the headlines since Saturday from India – a Saturday when Nepal’s devastating earthquake enveloped a part of Himalayan range, including many districts of Nepal, 39 overall and 11 severely damaged, and many parts of India and some parts of other neighbouring countries – China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan.

It’s an unending human misery and Nepal will take long to come back to normalcy in spite of the overwhelming international aid including from India.

Farmer suicides in India are also an unending human misery and no foreign aid is coming to curb them.

Governments here, including the Union Government try to do all to the hide behind the data when it comes to farmer suicides.

Though Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh has revised the estimates to 189 lakh hectares from 94 lakh hectares, many states affected have not reported farmer suicides due to unseasonal rains and the subsequent crops loss or have reported he same in highly disproportionate ways. And even the Centre, though accepting, is not attributing almost of these distress deaths due to some agrarian crisis.

The Nepal earthquake comes to the rescue of governments we can say, especially one government – Arvind Kejriwal’s government in Delhi.

Arvind Kejriwal has found himself in a trap after a farmer allegedly committed suicide in his rally. Kejriwal had launched the rally to take over the mantle of farmers’ fight against the National Democratic Alliance government’s land acquisition ordinance. He was claiming to offer the maximum compensation to the farmers in the country who were victims of unseasonal rains.

But Gajender or Gajendra’s alleged suicide washed down his efforts. When Gajender made the move to climb the tree at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, when he was trying to scale up and down the branches of the three, when he was waving his turban, the crowd below there, consisted mostly of the Aam Aadmi Party volunteers mainly, cheered him up.

When his alleged suicide, which was caught on many cameras, took place, Kejriwal promised he would visit the hospital after finishing the rally. He kept on speaking. The rally went on.

Meanwhile, Gajender was declared ‘brought dead’ by the doctors of Ram Manohar Lohia hospital in Delhi.

And Kejriwal and the AAP’s plans went to the awry after it.

After it, Kejriwal’s proposed visit never happened. He spoke on it, but only on third day, on April 24, defending and apologizing at the same time. His party’s spokespersons were speaking rubbish all this while. Sanjay Singh even visited Gajender’s village in Duasa district in Rajasthan.

Gajender’s village became a talking point. Every major political party, along with some senior politicians, saw it its duty to register its presence there. When Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Rajasthan’s chief minister, from the Bhartiya Janata Party, made a controversial statement about visiting Gajender’s villages, it created a political storm. She ultimately did not visit the village.

Gajender’s family too changed its stance after meeting Sanjay Singh. In words of Sanjay Singh, the family demanded ‘martyr status for the cause of farmers’ and jobs for dependent of Gajender, along with other demands.

In all, a political storm was brewing and farm suicides were at the forefront of every discourse in this country, something that seldom happens, even if tens of thousands of farmers commit suicide each year. Everyone was trying to squeeze in the maximum political mileage of this ‘Peepli Live’ sort of situation.

All this while, Gajender’s suicide and suicide note, both were under scanner. There were doubts based on the probe so far and it was told to us that Gajender did not intend to commit suicide and his suicide note was forged. Questions like who invited him from Rajasthan and his call details are part of investigation now. And the AAP was clearly on back foot.

Kejriwal was feeling uncomfortable with these questions. He was at the centre of every criticism and he had no answers but lame excuses. Also, the incident came after almost expulsion like situation of two senior-most AAP founder-members, Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan. The AAP is staring at a credibility crisis.

And then April 25 Nepal earthquake happened. The whole nation since then is talking about it. It got round the clock coverage till Monday. Even yesterday, it got the maximum amount of coverage.

And the AAP got the breather that it desperately needed.

April 25, 26, 27 and 28 – no one talked about Gajender.

But Gajender’s issue is not dead. As coverage from Nepal will return to normal, the AAP agenda will be back in political circles.

Kejriwal realizes it or not, we need to see that. Though he has softened his tone towards Delhi Police saying even Delhi Police officials present there could not think that Gajender was preparing to commit suicide, Gajender did die.

Farmers are dying daily in this country the headlines tell. Unseasonal rains have only added to the numbers. But they don’t pull attention, until someone like Gajender commits an intentional/unintentional suicide in India’s national capital in a rally called by its newest political party that is running the show in Delhi and is trying to take on the whole political class including the BJP in the centre.

Commonplace ironies of world’s largest democracy continue.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

FARMER SUICIDES AND POLITICAL APATHY

Agriculture employs some 55% (54.6% exactly) of the people of India but over the years, its share in the national GDP has reduced. As of now, it contributes just 14% to the GDP.

So, even if the GDP has expanded and India is slated to become the third largest economy of the world soon, the share of expansion gone to agriculture has been less than what went to services and manufacturing.

Services, manufacturing and other trade related activities getting prominence over the agriculture – that was bound to happen in an economy advancing to enlarge itself.

And so, it was expected from the policymakers that they would do something about it.

But they didn’t have any answer to this expectation. And over the years, the sensitivity with which they looked at the problem gave way to apathy.

Results – tens of thousands of cases of farmer suicides each year – in official records (say National Crime Records Bureau) – irrespective of which political group was at the helms of affair!

Think of the unofficial estimates! Sure to outdo the official figures.

And the trend has continued over the years.

With increasing insensitivity of the political establishments and total apathy of the governments!

So much so, that debate now has elements like ‘why to become a farmer when it is economically suicidal’ to ‘small Vs big farmers’.

75% farmers have land-holdings up to 1 hectare only. 10% farmers have holdings of 1-2 hectare while just 0.24% farmers have land-holdings above 10 hectare. And these are official figures, drawn from a report of the National Sample Survey Organization.

So, the smallest land-owners form the largest chunk and they have to be ready to bear all the anomalies and brutalities – man-made and natural.

Even in normal course, their expenditures outdo the earnings. So, think of the times when nature plays the villain and when the man acts apathetic.

We cannot do anything with the nature even if this is partly political – at least, not in the short term.

But when we have to say the same thing about the ‘men acting apathetic/insensitive’, it is outrightly humiliating – because that is totally political.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

POLITICS OVER A DEATH, ONCE AGAIN

Irrespective of his background and his intention, everyone is to share the blame for his death.

But, as expected, his death has become a full blown political matter.

Every political party is trying to sound sympathetic to the cause of the farmer and blaming the others for it.

We are remembering the farming community, once again, a community that employs maximum number of people in India. The ‘tears’ are being shed. Probes are being launched. It seems a solution will be reached that will be acceptable to the central party, the farmers, and all other stakeholders.

Society, polity – all are involved in this blamegame over a death in public – of a man who happened to be a farmer. Unseasonal rains created havoc for him. His standing crop was destroyed and he had no other mean as his father had ousted him. He had no other mean left but to commit suicide as no government compensation ever reached to him, as the alleged suicide note from his said.

And he hanged himself in full public view yesterday.

A newly formed political party, that is at the helms of the affair of Delhi, chose to speak and disband the rally, not to rush to save him. Its leader did not visit the hospital later (as spoken from the stage there) after he came to know that he was brought dead. Rahul Gandhi and Ajay Maken visited the hospital to express his condolences and expressed his solidarity. Offices of Delhi CM and HMO issued statements. Blames and counterblames began. As expected, ugly politics began.

After all, a farmer had died, in the Indian capital, in full public view, during the rally of the Aam Aadmi Party.

Today, it swept both Houses of Parliament. Rajya Sabha that began today and Lok Sabha that resumed its session on April 20, could not find, so far, any other issue to debate. All parties spoke, trying to squeeze in maximum politics. HM spoke. PM spoke. Leaders of Opposition in both Houses spoke. The AAP continue to defend it shamefully. Delhi Police continue to be defended in spite of all the odds.

Politics and what else!

Farmers are dying in the country, for decades, irrespective of the government in the office. Every government has failed to check the issue so far. Every party has shown the lack of initiative so far.

And we all are to share the blame.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

IT WAS THE WORST THE AAM AADMI PARTY COULD DO

This was the worst of the Aam Aadmi Party we saw today – and the spate of debacles is scheduled to see a downward spiral from here – because the writing on the wall says so.

The AAP fully metamorphosed today into a mainstream political party the preparation of which were underway for many days, especially after the rare victory in the Delhi assembly polls when the party won 67 out of 70 seats.

There was no hurry this time, unlike that shown during the first term of 49 days, the first term which, combined with Congress’ fall and the BJP’s developmental void, made the AAP win so impressive. We did not see appeals for sting operations like we saw the last time. Houses and vehicles in VIP facilities are taken promptly. VIP culture is in vogue with separate lanes. The police and corrupt are not scared like the last time. And so on.

Like a typical mainstream political party, the AAP took the reins of the power on the same date when it had deserted Delhi and chosen the same venue to mark its comeback – the Ramlila Ground.

And it made no tall promises on the day and the ‘many day afters’ after it.

In fact, Arvind Kejriwal now says that if his government fulfils even 40-50% of the promises made, it would be enough.

And today, the politician in him crossed even the threshold that we expected from the political lot which used to be the main target of Arvind Kejriwal and the AAP when he was promising us the sky. the politician in him chose to speak even if a man was dying today.

A farmer committed suicide during the launch rally of the AAP over the anti-land acquisition ordinance protests but Arvind Kejriwal and his partymen kept on speaking, demanding from the Delhi Police that they come and rescue the man.

What a rubbish!

He should have left speaking and should have rushed himself to the spot. The rally should have only one concern then – the man, who was dying. But he did equally opposite to it.

Even the mainstream politicians would not do such a thing – a mistake where a man lost his life and where humanity died once again and where even the mainstream politicians would act humanely.

But Arvind Kejriwal and his partymen were busy in sifting through and shifting the blame, to the Delhi Police, and to other politicians. He was busy criticising the BJP government’s land acquisition ordinance, Congress’ land acquisition bill and the Delhi Police on the delay in saving the man.

He kept on speaking. Even after the man was taken to the hospital where doctors declared him ‘brought dead’.

He was to go the hospital after his volunteers had taken the man to the hospital but the doctors declared him brought dead and mysteriously, after knowing so, after wrapping up the speech, he didn’t go to the hospital.

Seeing the political potential of the issue, every political party jumped into the issue including Rahul Gandhi. It is good to see Rahul Gandhi trying his hand on political issues because a strong opposition is need of the day.

But today, Kejriwal got worse. He fielded his spokesmen even if his party was to share the blame for the death of a man irrespective of his background.

And we see a pattern there.

The good looking and sensible spokespersons of the AAP are out and they are replaced by the spokesmen doing the politicise of the day Kejriwal style. Their only brief is – Kejriwal and the AAP are always right and they cannot make any mistake – and they believe in the dictum of ‘by hook or by crook’.

Like a mainstream politician, Arvind Kejriwal is assured, insured and secured by the electoral mandate that gives him fives year in the office that began on February 14, 2015 only.

And down the line two months only, he has got rid of all those who could pose a threat to his political career. He has got Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan, Admiral Ramdas and others expelled from the AAP. Other eminent names have already left the party as they felt alienated by the its changing ways. For them, it was no longer a political party with political activism in its blood.

Arvind Kejriwal now has full five years in Delhi and he intends to enjoy it politically with a clear turf.

And who cares for after five years – the day then – certainly not the politician from the lot who happen to be the main target when Kejriwal had begun his political career.

For the Kejriwal of the moment, it doesn’t matter if he is not going to be back after five years – the writing on the wall says.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

RAHUL SPEAKS – FROM THE OPPOSITION BENCHES IN LOK SABHA

So far, Rahul Gandhi had made only two speeches in the Parliament worth remembering. And going on his political career so far, he had failed to live up to.

He failed to speak in the Parliament, and among the public. He failed to own up when Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption agitation was at its peak. He failed to speak on time when the agitation against Delhi gang-rape of December 16, 2012 was on peak. He failed to own up Congress’ low while Congress’ decline touched a historic low.

Yesterday, he spoke, after a series of debacles and humiliating losses, but he could not offer anything new, even if he had taken some two months to think over the rout (as claimed). The projected mega rally of farmers at the Ramlila Ground turned out to be a routine affair.

And today, he spoke in the Lok Sabha. In all probability, it was his third speech in the lower House.

Budget Session of the Lok Sabha reconvened today again after a hiatus of 30 days and it was headed for a stormy session given the controversial statements of leaders and ministers (like we saw in case of Giriraj Singh today) and issues like ‘land acquisition ordinance’ and communal harmony among others.

Rahul Gandhi was better today. He looked confident and sounded more confident when he spoke. Though the Robert Vadra tag will not leave him anywhere, until he finds a honest remedy to it.

The farmer that is getting angrier or is in two minds and the common man – on Narendra Modi’s land acquisition ordinance and the anti-poor policies – will certainly react negatively when it will come to the issue of Robert Vadra’s status.

Yes, Robert Vadra as such is no issue. But his VVIP status, his riches and allegations of corruption are something that would make the common man an angry soul. This is something Rahul Gandhi needs to work on. And if his task is made difficult by the humiliating electoral losses of Congress, he has also a window of opportunity in portraying the government pro-rich, anti-farmer and anti-common man. But for that, he needs to do the cleansing of his house first.

Also, there were words about Sonia Gandhi fixing the time for Rahul’s speech. Reportedly, she had spoken with some opposition parties for Rahul’s speech and had issued a whip for Congress MPs. But only 28 of the 44 Congress MPs were present in the House when Rahul was speaking (from the opposition benches, for the first time).

For the moment, we are going to take everyone’s observation with a fistful of salt. It is difficult to believe on the verity of different data-sets.

Rahul came with his own. Government came with its own. States have differing versions. In centre were two issues – farmers’ suicide pushed by unseasonal rains and land acquisition.

The fact midst all this is – farmers are dying, pushed to the extremities by the rain gods and the policymakers at the centre and in the states.

And land is a sensitive issue for this country of some 1.25 billion, the world’s largest democracy. Most of its farmers are small land occupants and marginal labourers and the condition has worsened over the years.

The verity about data-sets will come only with time and proper implementation, something that we have missed so far, irrespective of the ‘policy in question’.

And the whole political lot is to share the blame for it.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/