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Farmer suicide at AAP rally: Trust a politician to show you how to survive

The farmer who hung himself today could have been anyone of us; it is just that he stayed back with the land while we moved on.

 |  3-minute read |   23-04-2015
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Breaking news of farmer suicides is rare and there are good reasons for this. Farmers kill themselves in impoverished villages and amid destroyed crops, not in the heart of Delhi, at Jantar Mantar. Farmers ensure they are alone when they commit suicide, not in front of cameras waiting for VIPs to make speeches at a rally. They are declared brought dead hours later in a village health centre, not rushed to one of the best hospitals in the country. They are mourned by their widows, and their children; never by the administration, the politicians, and the police.

Gajendra Singh Rajput, the farmer who committed suicide at JantarMantar struck at the heart of urban India that has struggled long and successfully to forget the dark, desperate villages he represented. Politics has been about cultivating this forgetfulness so that we may never have to visit those places again. But when people from these dark villages walk into the bright cities and kill themselves, it is may be time to remember. The farmer who hung himself from the neem tree today could have been anyone of us; it is just that he stayed back with the land while we moved on.

Words dipped in sympathy, regrets for the "unfortunate" incident, shock at the "extreme" step, statements that mean nothing because they change nothing for others like Rajput, who may be ready to die. How cold runs the blood of those who know this and have let farmers die for decades? As cold as those who want fertile farmlands of the poor to be acquired by the rich? As cold as those who use the land bill as a tool to repackage their image? Or as cold as those who continued their pro-farmer speeches as a farmer hung himself to death amidst them?

Perhaps, a far more important question is whether these treacherously ambitious and unrelentingly wily people are who we are as a nation. It makes no difference to the farmer which party is in power, he is always burdened by loans he cannot repay, must cultivate crops he cannot sell, and believe in promises that won’t be kept. The elite living room battles about politics, leadership and poverty, cannot be fought out in homes with no living rooms.

So, really. What’s the point in asking why didn’t the Delhi chief minister rush to the farmer’s aid? Which political leader had rushed to any farmer’s aid in this nation? What’s the point in asking why the Prime Minister Modi favours the corporates in the Land Bill? Did anyone believe he would not? What’s the point in asking why the Congress failed to improve the lot of farmers? How many times must it fail for us to believe?

In the end, the AAP farmers’ rally today showcased why a farmer cannot survive in our system while a politician can. The politician survives by helping people forget the hopelessness of our farmers. So do what it takes to stay in limelight, criticise the media, criticise politics, criticise the police, or anyone else required. Just don’t leave the dais once you get there, because as they say in entertainment, the show must go on.

Writer

Kota Neelima Kota Neelima @kotaneelima

Kota Neelima is author of the bestselling political fiction ‘Shoes of the Dead.’

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