Cold response to Modi at Malout rally organised by Akali Dal

Chandigarh, July 11: Prime Minister Narendra had perhaps sensed cold response when he stepped on the stage at Malout today to address the rally organised by the Akali Dal to thank him for announcing what is claimed to be implementation of Swaminathan Committee report by way of fixing highest ever prices of farm produce. It was supposed to a farmers miobilisation with participation from neighbouring Haryana and Rajasthan too as the venue suited these states.

Modi’s mood can be assessed from the way he took no time in taking off the turban that had been fitted on his head by Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal. He immediately handed it over to his security people.

The Akali leaders can take solace in the fact that unlike the Muslim skull cap, he did not refuse turban. After all, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh treats Sikhs as part of the broader Hindu stream.

It is pertinent to mention that Modi takes pride in donning Gujarati turban especially on important occasions.

There were no cheers from the crowds that are normally witnessed at his rallies in other states along with the chants of ‘Modi-Modi-Modi’. This was heard only once and that too from participants possibly from the neighbouring states.

Akali Dal patriarch and 5-time chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had to exhort the crowd at least to respond to the ‘Fateh’ from the speakers. This is unusual at the time when the Akali Dal is in opposition in Punjab.

Modi started his speech with his usual attack on the Gandhi family and this narrative continued for more than five minutes. The irony was not lost as while he was slamming the Gandhi dynasty for what he terms as lack of development during the last 70 years, the entire Badal dynasty was sitting in the front row on the stage including Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal. For the record, the presidents of both the Congress as well as the Akali Dal are elected democratically.

Modi did not get much enthused  and he did not make any big announcement. Of course, he tried to market this highest ever hike in minimum support price of crops. The farm economists have a different take on such hyperbolic claims of the people in power.

Going by the videos that have gone viral, pandal was empty at the back on one side when Modi was addressing the rally.

The Akali Dal organised the rally in three days that goes to the credit of this party. However, more important is the response from the people.

It is apparent that the farmers in this food bowl of the state have not been enthused by  this ‘highest ever’ hike in MSP. One has to go into increase in cost of inputs also during this period as farming in Punjab is capital intensive unlike in other states.

Neither the Prime Minister nor Badals talked about suicides by the farmers. This is the issue that too should have been addressed. It is the distress in the farm sector in general that should have been focussed at this rally after the hike in MSP.

What is needed is a long term farm policy and not band aid solutions.

Anyway, Modi failed to connect to the people or rather they  refused to respond.

This is the situation at the time when the Captain Amarinder Singh government in the state is perceived to be non-functional.


Jagtar Singh


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