As the farmers protest has grown powerful and looking for a long haul, the BJP as well as its ‘information network’ has gone overboard to discredit them. Whatever things happen at the ground, the social media trolls and disinformation has its impact even if we deny them or mock at them.
Travelling in the train from Uttar Pradesh give you a lot of ‘information’ floating on the ground. While being with the most marginalised one, we found no love for the government or BJP, I found that people are more focussed on their communities and how their work get done. This has actually helped the BJP as a large number of people who are now part of the BJP from the Dalit OBCs are not really with any ideological love for the Sangh Parivar but because of their own pragmatism and local caste equations. The most of them clearly feel that the current government is actually helping the Ambanis and Adanis. So, Rahul Gandhi might not have succeeded but his narratives have now become part of the common people, very much similar to the narrative that RSS spread about Nehru, Indira and Sonia Gandhi. It clearly reveal that social media narratives are powerful and even when they are fake, they remain there with people. It is important for those who analyse social media and decry it, that they provide their own narrative. The most important thing, for people like us, is reach as we all know the reach has often been restricted and limited. It is essential to increase the reach of those narratives which explain to people about the policies of the government and correct perspective.
In the train people were ‘worried’ about the Bandh and possible delay of train and local services so when in trouble they wont side with the opposition. BJP’s aim was to put these protests as problem making and creating disturbance in the people. ‘It is too much democracy in India’, often the Sangh sympathisers would remark.
‘ I hail from a kisan family in Haryana’, said a co passenger who was worried about whether he would be able to get his connection to Yamunanagar from Anand Vihar. ‘ The problem is not with the farmers but now ‘Khalistanis’, Canadians, JNU people, Communists have joined hand which is wrong. What is more worrying is that Muslims too have now infiltrated in it and it has now become anti national’, he said.
The other man jumps into the discussion. ‘Are these poor farmers’, he said. They are drinking ‘Bisleri water’, good food is being served to them, they have dry fruits available for them. Where is the money coming from, he ask. Then all join hand. They oppose Modi and its not the issue. They are fighting for their rights, no issue but why are the communists, JNU wallahs, Canadians, Khalistani joining them ? And with Muslims joining them, it has become the ‘security’ threat, they say.
I was not amused. Without fighting with them, I asked, ‘But Modi ji has been helping Ambani and Adani only. Food prices have gone up, unemployment so high and there are issues confronting the nation and this government only think about Hindus, Muslims, India, Pakistan, Ram Janambhumi. There is a silence for a while and then acceptance of the fact. ‘ You are right says the other. What has the government done for the people, they say. It is time for the government to speak to people and listen to their concerns, suggest other. At the end, all wanted to say that commuters should not face the problem during the Bandh. Most of us knew that the Bandh is for the whole day so there was constant fear of stranding at the railway station but we realised later that it was from 10 am to 3 pm which was a good decision.
I can only say that the way BJP’s IT cell has been operating and carrying campaign against the ongoing agitation, shows that the party has learn nothing as it feel that vilifying people and bringing conspiracy theories it can discredit the movement and polarise the ‘others’. Every movement or protest has been declared as ‘other’ by the BJP troll army and then vilified as anti national if there is a support for it from various quarters particularly Minority groups, left parties, student leaders or international organisations. We hope the party as well as the government will realises that in democracies government speak to people and people join hand for a cause. There is no conspiracy if people support it. BJP too gained through Ram Janambhumi Movement and a number of its netas went to Jail during the protests. It must understand that vilifying people will not succeed all the time. Social media campaign work only among the one category of people and every body has its own social media narrative. In this war of fake narratives all lose and none win. We hope those in power and wanting to take a decision that people too read and understand things and it is not they alone who are ‘samajhdars’ but the farmers know about their issues much better than those making laws for them. So, being a bit humble and speaking to farmers will not put any harm to the country. In fact, It will strengthen it but nothing can be expected from those who have already decided to hand over our big farm sector to the cronies.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist