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Yogendra Yadav is not a farmer leader: Here is why urban Indians should reject this hollow emotional blackmail

Yogendra Yadav as the face of “farmers” protest is not a show of our democratic values. It is a show of privilege. It is an insult to the democratic spirit.

This is primetime news from yesterday, hosted by Rajdeep Sardesai. On one side of the debate is a representative of the BJP. On the other side of the debate on farmer protests, is Yogendra Yadav, the president of Swaraj India. The banner reads “Gold standard of journalism” as they discuss the ‘farmer protest’ in Punjab.

The Prime Time debate on India Today, hosted by Rajdeep Sardesai on the farmer protest

At one point, Mr. Yogendra Yadav said, “I, on behalf of all the farmers of this country…

And that, in a nutshell, is all you need to know about the media circus around so called “farmers protests” yesterday. By the way, I am also pointing a finger at the BJP for validating this, by humoring the president of Swaraj India, whatever that is.

Now you may ask: what if a representative of the world’s largest party is willing to debate what appears to be the world’s smallest party? Should we not respect every voice, big or small? But then, the question is, why only Yogendra Yadav? Why the same Yogendra Yadav on every issue from Bihar election to Delhi riots to agriculture in Punjab? This is not a show of respect for every voice. This is about one person being showered with the privilege of being heard on every forum and on every issue. All because he has friends in the media.

Yogendra Yadav as the face of “farmers” protest is not a show of our democratic values. It is a show of privilege. It is an insult to the democratic spirit.

If you want to understand how made up the so-called “farmers” protest is, consider the numbers. In India, over 50% of the population depends on agriculture. That is 60 crore people. According to “activists,” these 60 crore people are in danger of losing their livelihood due to the new farm laws. And in the 3 months since these 60 crore people have been supposedly protesting, they have managed half a day of “Bharat Bandh” in some parts of Punjab and managed to fill one tiny bridge on Punjab-Haryana border yesterday.

Farmer protest in Punjab (scpeengrab from NDTV coverage)

Apparently, a few dozen jawans of Haryana Police have managed to hold off an agitation that comprises 60 crore people. If 60 crore people in this country were angry, which police force could stop them? Which road or bridge would they block? Would the country stay on track for even one second, let alone three months?

But, according to media, “farmers” are protesting. You just didn’t notice 60 crore people protesting because Haryana Police has been stopping them by putting barricades on one bridge somewhere.

This can’t be. Nobody can hide protests that big.

So let us turn the tables against this media circus. For one, let us stop calling them “farmer protest.” Here is the famous farmer’s march from 2018 that took social media by storm, pictured here in The Hindu.

Farmers march of 2018

Come on here. We have eyes. That’s not a “farmers march.” That’s a bunch of people walking with CPIM flags. If they were marching with BJP flags, we would call it a BJP protest. But for some strange reason, when they march with a Communist banner like that of All India Kisan Sabha, we call it a “farmers march.” When the CPIM women’s wing protests, it is called a “women’s protest.” When the left wing AISA is on the streets, the media calls it “student protests.” If ABVP does the same, it is however called an “ABVP protest.”

How long are we going to let the media get away with this privilege reserved only for Communists and well connected far left elites like Yogendra Yadav? When will we stop pretending that they represent general groups of people (farmers, students or women), instead of just a handful of their comrades? And in the case of Yogendra Yadav, just himself.

Put yourself in the shoes of a farmer and think clearly. Would you really choose Yogendra Yadav as your leader?

The media focus on a few hundred protesters on a tiny bridge and Yogendra Yadav as the face of the supposed agitation shows that this is a mere circus. They are not raising any real issues, this is just to get your blood pressure and their TRPs up. By taking the whole thing seriously, you are not doing farmers a favor. You are in fact insulting them.

In India, someone or the other is always angry. A few hundred protesters are always blocking a bridge somewhere. Yes, they have a right to be heard and they will be. Whatever settlement they reach with the government will in turn make another group of 500 people angry. And they will go block another bridge somewhere.


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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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