The anti CAA protests which saw the nation erupt in violence leading to the Shaheen Bagh Standoff and culminating in the Delhi Riots where dozens of lives were lost. The background of anti CAA need not be emphasised here but the failure of the government and the inept handling by the Home Minister, the modern Chanakya, a slur though, Amit Shah was supposed to be a Case Study for any future protests of the magnitude as the anti CAA protests. The anti CAA/NRC protests saw massive mobilising by every section opposed to the Modi government. Yet, the grand failure of intelligence agencies, police, civil services could certainly be a template for future protests but nothing happened, no lessons learned, no measures initiated to stop repeat of such protests, no rules, no regulations put in place to prevent similar violent protests. And, Delhi paid for the ineptitude of the Home Ministry & the Home Minister. The capital was taken hostage by sword wielding, horse riding Nihangs, Sikh protesters, and maybe some farmers too. It was the “Capitol Hill Moment” for India.
Modi government and the Home Minister after passing the important CAA Bill forgot the backlash it would create, maybe confident in their own beliefs of tackling the repeal of Art 370 peacefully did not bargain for massive protests and violence nor did the Home Ministry apprehend the culmination of the CAA protests in Delhi Riots. The failure of all resources available to Home Minister to convey the ground realities in case of CAA protests have replicated themselves in the Farmers Protests. But the larger question remains, “ was it collective failure or deliberate mishandling for political gains in case of CAA protests or was it the ineptness of the Minister in Charge ?”
Shaheen Bagh exposed the government mishandling. The government which rode to power with an absolute majority and more seats than the last time is supposedly seen as a strong government but the handling proved its supporters wrong. The poor beaten supporters still hedged their bets that next time government will not let a Shaheen Bagh redux and it’s once again Egg on the Face. Government or its minions may have any spin on the mishandling of the Farmers Protests but the naked fact staring at us is the Khalistani Flag flying at the Red Fort. There are conspiracy theorists spinning webs of Modi government exposing the Farmers protests as one led by anti national forces, of giving a loose rope for these forces to hang themselves, of exposing the perennial malcontents the Left Liberals, the Urban Naxals and the assorted opposition.
Whatever maybe the spin, it was a colossal failure of the Modi government and its self proclaimed Chanakya, the Home Minister Amir Shah. The protests have been raging for almost two months, very similar to the ones organised by the opposition to the government during the anti CAA/NRC protests, the modus operandi was uncannily same, hold ground, mobilise crowds, outsourcing protests to non farmers, getting the anti government lobbies, the media including the international media to create a hype over the Farmers Protests which it was not. International mouthpieces started calling these as the Biggest Revolt against the Modi government in its six and half years of power. Surprisingly, the government failed the counter the information war unleashed upon it , the so called Godi Media subsisting on this government’s patronage has been exposed too.
What has shocked BJP supporters is the unwillingness of the government to enforce the rule of law. It stood watching helplessly as the goons in garb of farmers attacked police, public property and stormed the Red Fort in the heart of Indian capital. Not that its arguments in SC reposed any confidence in the government, it was mostly in sync with the SC ruling a stay on the implementation of the new laws probably in hope of buying time for its political machinations to have effect. Surprisingly, it again did not take into account the resourcefulness of the forces arraigned against it.
The blockade of Delhi was almost complete with borders at Singhu, Tikri, Shahjahanbad, Ghaziabad picketed by the protesters, letting only the essential cargos moving into the capital. Then came the big announcement of farmers declaring a Parallel Republic Day rally in Delhi. The government was seen pleading in the SC trying to exhort promises from the lawyers representing the farmers totally oblivious to the fact that these lawyers were nothing but a clog in the giant wheel that these protests were. It was a hollow word given by likes of Dushyant Dave and Colin Gonsalves who were buying time while trying to be righteous in the SC
Amit Shah as Home Minister was aware of all the facts with all their permutations and combinations. A man who is thought to be an astute politician, organiser and a ruthless administrator, the twin failures of Shaheen Bagh and Singhu cannot be a coincidence. It has to be either a deliberately thought out plan or more likely a Grand Failure of his abilities to choke out these random protests. The protests in themselves are gaining a permanence in the thought process of the people in the country, it is reinforcing the fact that the government is unwilling to use all tools available to it to curb such protests which are primarily motivated by political forces rather than genuine reasons. The idea that a mob can dictate the course of action by the government is gaining recognition especially as seen in both anti CAA/NRC protests as well as the Farmers Protests. Shah has created an aura of strong man who does not bow down to the frivolities of politics when it come to administration and speaks his own mind, however, during both the Shaheen Bagh and Farmers Protests he has been in characteristically silent. This leads to another surmise, is he in control of his ministry or is he still recuperating from his Covid19 illness ?
Whatever maybe the case, the twin failures have cast a shadow of doubt over the abilities of the government in general and Shah in particular to combat the rising incidence of organised street protests against the government. The government is showing off its victories in the Bihar election as well panchayat elections in Rajasthan as proof of its Farm Laws as benefiting the farmers hasn’t worked well with the Farmers’ groups protesting in Delhi. The government knew that these protests were politically motivated and yet it singularly failed to overcome the political narrative even with the machinery available to it. It seems that the combined opposition has found a chink in the supposedly impregnable armour that is Modi Government and it will go for a Kill in the years to come if the BJP and Modi government does not wake up to the new challenge being thrown up by myriad forces who are not defined nor are visible in the environment. Mobs have taken down many a respectable governments who were afraid to use its resources to curb lawlessness.