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Farmers, Shahrukh and Putin, a blockbuster week

by Priti Prakash | PUBLISHED: Feb 18, 2024, 10:18 am IST

Priti Prakash
Priti Prakash

The farmers have marched back to Delhi with their demands, for which they sat on roads leading to the national capital with their tractors converted into cabins for close 13 months in 2020-21 in the chilling months of winter. The protest is to nudge the govt to fulfill their demands of which making MSP legal, releasing arrested farmers, debt waiver to farmers & laborers, implementation of Swaminathan committee report are some of them. With three rounds of talks failed wonder how many lives will it take for consensus. The farmers are this time too ready to sit in for any amount of time. Meanwhile barricades have been erected, nails dug, and road blocked by cement blocks early on to ensure 'farmers' don't enter the national capital. They have been pelted with rubber pellets, tear gas shells dropped from drones to deter them.

Last time after a lot of mayhem and resistance the government had to take back the so called black laws Delhi for which the government faced a lot of flak for the mishandling of the issue.

What does the government have on its mind this time. Some say that it is already petrified as general elections are approaching and antagonizing farmers is not in their interest. By giving Bharat Ratna to Choudhary Charan Singh and MS Swaminathan, PM Modi has tried to play the appeasement card for farmers of western UP and Haryana. Punjab is still a no zone for them.  Meanwhile the Opposition, which is the Congress party has promised full MSP to farmers if they came in power in 2024.

Congress was quick to show mirror. It said the Chinese walk in on our land for kilometers and sit on it but not a word is said but our own farmers who provide food on our plate are barred from entering the national capital when they demand their rights….. Food for thought.

Then a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of India declaring Electoral Bonds illegal and unconstitutional has changed the face of election funding in the largest democracy. BJP which is the largest party and the biggest beneficiary of these Electoral Bonds, a scheme that they got in 2018 has got them a whopping ?1,300 crore in the financial year 2022-23. Lets see how it gets around this time just a few days before 2024 elections.

PM Modi’s visit to UAE and Qatar has already hogged all the limelight. The UAE leg was full of optics right from the word go as any visit by the PM is. The Hindu temple built in UAE inaugurated by the PM was certainly something that cannot be overlooked by any measure. A hindu temple in a muslim country speaks volumes but the paradox is in the face. Where this fanatical land is opening doors for liberal values accommodating diverse segments, we in India are increasingly becoming polarized, on the way to the reality of being a hindu state. Something to learn from the other side.

Qatar released our 8 Ex Navy personel after the Emir granted them pardon. But the buzz in social media was, that a huge deal was struck for this release. A USD 78 billion LNG deal has been finalized which will be functional from 2028. Interestingly a tweet by Subramanyam Swami said that Modi should have taken Shah Rukh Khan to Qatar as it was for his part that the release fructified instead of the efforts of our foreign office. No harm in exploring ways for securing our soldiers. Afterall Diplomacy demands all ways and means to help serve the interest of the nation but a prompt justification from the star’s office only makes us think twice.  

On the US elections front, every day is an interesting day when its election season. Trump, who is standing for the next Presidentship, has declared that NATO countries need to pay up for their security that comes under the NATO umbrella and that US is not going to pay for them, if he becomes the President. In case Russia invades them he doesn’t care. This has ruffled NATO members feathers and countries like Germany and France have started working their own security budgets. Remember during his last stint Trump not only walked out of the Climate pact and finished the Iran pact but that the American government had become his family fiefdom with his daughter, son in law being in the most powerful positions in the government other than the storming of the White House by his frantic supporters on loosing elections. Wonder what the Americans are in for again as much as the world.

Putin on the other hand has opined in an interview with a US journalist that he would prefer Biden to Trump as the next President. Now, that much for Russia’s interference in US elections…..we will wait for Biden’s response. Trump has called him a good friend.

The biggest event this month were the elections in Pakistan. Bogus, rigged, and a farce although not unprecedented. Imran Khan & his Independents who won are nowhere and Nawaz Sharif and Bhuttos’ way behind in numbers are forming government. The Army who is the king maker will do good to read the hints of its unpopularity. But as is well known Pakistan is an ‘Army with a State’, as opposed to the opposite. With a fragile and a government of convenience in place, the coming together of weak PMLN and PPP’s support the future is at the least shaky. It’s a matter of days when the edifice will come crumbling down to be again in a state of uncertainty. The least that the region wants is Pakistan to have a stable democratic government that works peacefully with the neighbours and the world.
Interestingly despite the hopeless exercise of elections and its result in Pakistan, the US seems contended, calling it a ‘competitive election’. Afterall the need of a servile partner in this region is more important than the superpower’s preachings of Democracy and Human Rights.          
Priti Prakash
Priti Prakash

Political Commentator, Interviewer, moderator and Foreign Correspondent. With more than 20 years in journalism and experience of both print and electronic medium, she is Editor FacenFacts, news website.