A Question of Strategy – Farmers Stir and Its Foes


I don’t remember where exactly I read the story of the APMC Mandis falling apart in certain regions not immediately involved in the farmers’ stir.I hope fervently it is one of the shoals of fake stories swirling around in the ocean of Internet.But if true I think it should ring alarm bells in the leading circles of the mammoth farmers’ movement that is now well into its eighth month.What is happening there is perhaps pressure on wholesalers, brokers and transport providers from the usual suspects to cease and desist.Or how else could they be in rough weather?

If you do not make a timely study and appraisal of your enemy’s strategy you cannot hope to win the war.You may even face defeat.

Farmer leaders seem to think it is a case of massive face-off,two mighty armies digging their heels in and facing each other in a trial of stamina.If I am proved wrong I am prepared to box my own ears as penalty.But it seems to me that is a wrong idea of the enemy’s plans.

A careful study of the enemy’s mindset as revealed in its actions is that it rarely retreats from the position it holds.Rather like Hitler in the last phase of his war as he overruled professional soldiers’ advice to withdraw from a desperate situation. Secondly it does not idle the time away expecting the enemy to make its moves.But makes sly,quiet tactical moves to weaken its enemy’s supply lines and reserves.The deliberate evisceration of some Mandis may be one such move.

Farmers believe since their movement has solid support of farmers and workers in the states other than those directly involved,they need not trouble about the enemy’s operations in that shadowland.But while the support is certainly there,they forget it is not as organised, watchful and militant as they are.Hence the farmers in those states have come under a flurry of policy measures that take them by surprise and upset their chances of coming to the aid of their brothers at war.

The signs of such marauding raids are not evident at once and these need careful scrutiny.But they are very much there.I am reporting some of them from Assam,but I believe other BJP ruled states will show similar evidence.Some time back headlines here screamed that under a new directive from the centre many farmers here who had received Rs.6000 in three instalments under eponymous Kisan funds will have to return the amount as they do not hold secure land Pattas.The total amount is Rs.860 and odd crores.Now,while this seems to be a typical bureaucratic rigmarole,it may well hide a more purposeful and ruthless design.The intention behind that sudden offer of bounty might not have been an uncharacteristic philanthropy, nor even a vote-wangling bait.On retrospect It may well have been a cold, calculating stratagem to find out the amount of land to be ultimately given away to corporates.For dispossessing farmers of their land is one of the priority aims of the disputed laws.

According to a headline in the Asomiya Pratidin(July 25),the farmers here are agitated over a reported D.O letter from the Centre’s Deptt.of Food,PDS and Consumer Affairs(DO No.1(4)2018 PYL) the state government has been asked not to buy foodgrains from farmers any more.This is evidently aimed at abolishing the MSP regime.Even the state government had apparently no prior inkling of it as the state budget already passed had envisaged purchasing 1 million tons of farm produce at MSP.

It is these nibbling attacks that apparently aim at weakening support for the farmers’ stir in states away from the war-zone.I have a notion that apart from keeping up activities at the front farmers’ leaders have got to find solutions in time to such problems behind the lines that might snowball into a big headache.

Hiren Gohain is a social scientist and literary critic

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