An interesting development occurred on Twitter on Monday. It was one of those rare occasions when ’eminent journalist’ Barkha Dutt spoke sense. Barkha Dutt condemned the ongoing ‘farmer protests’ and also spoke out against the opposition parties supporting them.
She said, “Protests by Farmers during this calamity are just as irresponsible as Kumbh Mela or election rallies were. Opposition parties backing them playing with lives. Anything that encourages mass gatherings at this time is an affront to health workers and those who have lost loved ones”.
Given the devastating second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic, what Dutt said made sense. However, it did not go down well with her liberal comrades who chose to criticise her for her ostensibly sensible take.
Prominent among them was Pratik Sinha of Alt News. According to him, it is the government that ought to be blamed and also, it is apparently a “false equivalency” to compare the Kumbh Mela with the ‘farmer protests’. “The onus is on the Govt, not the people. No one wants super spreader events,” he said.
‘Journalist’ Amrita Bakshi disagreed with Dutt as well and pinned the blame on the government. She apparently disapproves of the government passing the laws as per provisions enshrined in our Constitution. Bakshi clearly believes the Parliament is not the appropriate place for passing laws but the streets are.
Aditya Menon, too, demonstrated his ample love for mobocracy. According to him, this is a crisis of the government’s own making. It appears that he wants the government to bow down to every mob that decides to hold the country ransom. Such antics are then justified by inventing fake excuses of the laws being ‘unjust’.
The template appears to be the dominant one today, the template that says ‘farmer protests’ are not comparable to the Kumbh Mela. It’s true they are not comparable, but for entirely different reasons. For instance, it is still debatable the extent to which Kumbh contributed to the second wave of the pandemic and there were safeguards in place.
On the other hand, there are no safeguards in place at the protest sites and we have concrete evidence to suggest that it was responsible for spreading the UK variant of the novel Coronavirus. A Punjab Minister even admitted that the protests were responsible for the crisis in the state.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh pleaded with the protesters to not go ahead with the superspreader event. But his request was rejected outright.
Nevertheless, liberals insist that the comparison is not justified because the protests are apparently for ‘livelihood’, even though there is no evidence to suggest that it will destroy the livelihood of actual farmers. Meanwhile, the Kumbh is “personal indulgence”. In other words, the comparison is not justified simply because liberals support one and not the other and they say it is not.
Thus, we see a clear attempt to defend the indefensible after maligning the Kumbh Mela. It is understandable why actors such as Pratik Sinha are so overeager to give a free pass to opposition parties. Recently, Alt News was given documents by the Congress party in order to absolve them of any guilt over the toolkit conspiracy.
It made it abundantly clear that the platform works as the propaganda wing of the Congress party. Under such circumstances, it is not really surprising that its co-founder Pratik Sinha is inventing flimsy excuses to whitewash the ‘farmer protests’.
On Sunday, 12 opposition parties including the Congress and their allies, NCP and Shiv Sena, apart from parties such as Trinamool Congress and CPI(M) lent their support to the ongoing protests against the farm laws.
Their conduct only reveals that they were never really concerned about the possible spread of Covid-19 during the Kumbh Mela, all they wanted was to play petty politics and use the pandemic to boost their failing fortunes.
If they were indeed concerned about the pandemic, then they would not have supported the farmer protests which have undeniably contributed to the severity of the second wave. Following their support, it appears that their minions in the media have received the message as well who are now working overtime to whitewash the Covid threat from the ‘farmer protests’.