Chronicles of the Punjab: high confidence, echo of activism but no direct political beneficiary


The jubilation may be ebbing, but the farm laws, the turmoil they sparked, and their withdrawal more than a year later have sparked an air of confidence in the state’s Jat community.

Sentiment may not align with the overall economic situation in Punjab. Yet the peasantry, from marginal farmers to large landowners, is optimistic.

Protest songs, victory songs and traditional ballads are now regularly echoed from tractor-mounted sound systems. Young people seem to feel better about perseverance and activism.

Although 20 percent in Punjab, the Jats are the main players in its agrarian economy. They have traditionally ruled the state head-on.

Jats are vocal. They are powerful speakers.

In the streets, workers from a cross section of sectors are seen organizing peaceful protests for issues that concern them.

Union activism may have faded in metropolitan areas over the past two decades. But it’s a common sight in Punjab these days.

But no political party seems to benefit directly from this trust.

At this point, it might be wrong to assume that one of the four Channi’s Congress players, the Badals, Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP and Captain Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress, their current and potential allies, have a so- saying benefit.

That such and such a party has an advantage over its rivals sounds like a cliché in the Punjab, after the turmoil.

December 17: In the village of Pathlawa in Doaba, a young voter believes that neither of the political parties really supported the farmers when they started to protest against the central farming ordinances.

“Where were they at that time? ” he asked me. “The parties only gave their support after realizing the political cost. “

A villager in his late fifties is candid about the fraternity factor. “Voting is never a one-way street. People vote according to the wishes of their brotherhood in the villages.

December 19: Ladhana Jhikka. This is called an NRI village.

Sikhs in the diaspora supported the Aam Aadmi party in 2017.

The villagers we met in Ladhana Jhikka are mostly relatives of the NRIs.

They want to experience AAP again in 2021.

After Ladhana Jhikka, we drove straight to a sports ground in Banga.

This is a state-level football semi-final dedicated to farmers who died in the agricultural turmoil.

The bosses, like the farmers of the Punjab, harbor a deep grudge against neoliberalism and business.

December 20: Bonkar Dogra. One of the first villages in Malwa when you come from Doaba. It’s back. The alleys are strewn with filth. The houses are broken.

The villagers mostly belong to the SC communities.

They complain about Bonkar Dogra’s delay on various parameters.

But these villagers support Chief Minister Channi. They find one among them trying to work for their well-being.

December 21: The desecration of Sri Darbar Sahib (the Golden Temple) and the lynching of the man accused of having committed it on December 18 grabbed national headlines.

We head to Amritsar for a chat with the head of the Shiromani committee Gurdwara Parbandhak, the highest Sikh religious administration that runs the historic gurdwaras and many Sikh institutions in Punjab, and some outside the state.

The SGPC is controlled by the Badals party. Its leader and members are appointed by the party.

I can sense that Harjinder Singh Dhami, the new chairman of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak committee, is uncomfortable with my pointed questions about Saturday’s lynching blamed on a frenzied mob.

He also tries to defend the SGPC’s own record, which did not hold its general election on time.

That said, the Badal have a perfect command of this major religious area.

December 22: At the Ludhiana wool market, we meet hosiery traders from different communities. They are mainly Sikhs and Hindus from the upper castes.

The company has suffered a double whammy from the pandemic and the agricultural unrest.

Read also: Three agricultural laws to be canceled. What were they all talking about?

Read also: Farewell to agricultural laws: a timeline of the farmers’ protest


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